At least five deaths were reported after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake rocked much of southern Mexico and Central America on Monday.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor, which hit at about 7:23 a.m. ET, was centered about a mile northeast of the town of Puerto Madero near the Guatemala border.
“We have reports of damaged homes and apparently three people dead. For now, this is all supposition, we’re going by air to make checks,” Sergio Cabanas, a spokesman for Guatemalan emergency services, told Reuters.
Twelve people were taken to hospitals and 50 houses were evacuated in the region, which suffered major disruptions to communication, Sergio Vasquez, another spokesman for fire services, told the news service.
Firefighter spokesman Raul Hernandez said at least two people were killed when their homes collapsed in the Guatemalan town of San Marcos. Another woman in Quetzaltenango died from a heart attack, and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said a newborn had been killed by a collapsing wall in a San Marcos hospital.
Cracks opened up in buildings, and there were landslides in the area, authorities said.
“This quake was pretty strong. There are houses destroyed,” Luis Rivera, governor of the San Marcos region, told Reuters. The region was victimized by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 2012 that killed 48 people.
In Mexico, local news media reported the quake was felt strongly in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco.
The civil defense office in the Mexican state of Chiapas reported that one man had been killed in Huixtla by a collapsed wall.
“I thought the house was going to collapse,” said Claudia Gonzales, 32, who fled into the street with her 1-year-old daughter in Comitan, a town in Chiapas.
The quake was centered 57 miles below the surface. It was initially reported as magnitude-7.1, but the Geological Survey lowered the figure hours later.