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Guatemala president: earthquake kills 39

  • Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a public hospital after he was injured in a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a public hospital after he was injured in a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents on motorcycles drive past a damaged road after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents on motorcycles drive past a damaged road after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents on motorcycles drive past a damaged road after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents on motorcycles drive past a damaged road after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents begin clearing rubble from a damaged building after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents begin clearing rubble from a damaged building after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents begin clearing rubble from a damaged building after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents begin clearing rubble from a damaged building after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Two women walk past a building damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Two women walk past a building damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Two women walk past a building damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Two women walk past a building damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents walk around rubble and a car damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents walk around rubble and a car damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents walk around rubble and a car damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents walk around rubble and a car damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • People talk to a police officer while standing in the rubble caused after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    People talk to a police officer while standing in the rubble caused after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • People talk to a police officer while standing in the rubble caused after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    People talk to a police officer while standing in the rubble caused after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • A shoe lies atop a pile of sand at a sand mine, where people are feared buried, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    A shoe lies atop a pile of sand at a sand mine, where people are feared buried, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • A shoe lies atop a pile of sand at a sand mine, where people are feared buried, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    A shoe lies atop a pile of sand at a sand mine, where people are feared buried, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Residents use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Residents use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • People gather in the street after evacuating their office buildings after an earthquake was felt in Mexico City, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.  A strong earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Wednesday morning, rocking the capital and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

    People gather in the street after evacuating their office buildings after an earthquake was felt in Mexico City, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. A strong earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Wednesday morning, rocking the capital and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

  • Rubble blankets a street after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Dozens are reported dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Rubble blankets a street after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Dozens are reported dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Rubble blankets a street after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Dozens are reported dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Rubble blankets a street after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Dozens are reported dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a public hospital after he was injured in a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a public hospital after he was injured in a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

  • Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a public hospital after he was injured in a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents on motorcycles drive past a damaged road after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents on motorcycles drive past a damaged road after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents begin clearing rubble from a damaged building after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents begin clearing rubble from a damaged building after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Two women walk past a building damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Two women walk past a building damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents walk around rubble and a car damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents walk around rubble and a car damaged after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • People talk to a police officer while standing in the rubble caused after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • People talk to a police officer while standing in the rubble caused after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • A shoe lies atop a pile of sand at a sand mine, where people are feared buried, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • A shoe lies atop a pile of sand at a sand mine, where people are feared buried, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Residents use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • People gather in the street after evacuating their office buildings after an earthquake was felt in Mexico City, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.  A strong earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Wednesday morning, rocking the capital and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
  • Rubble blankets a street after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Dozens are reported dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Rubble blankets a street after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. Dozens are reported dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
  • Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a public hospital after he was injured in a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck in San Marcos, Guatemala, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. The mountain village, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with some 30 homes collapsing in its center. There are three confirmed dead and many missing after the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala yesterday, killing at least 39 people as it ravaged a small state near the Mexican border, the country’s president said.

The mountain village of San Marcos, 80 miles from the epicenter, suffered much of the damage with about 30 homes collapsing in its center. Hundreds of frightened villagers were on the streets, one of which was cracked open by the temblor, the strongest to hit Guatemala since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000.

More than 300 people, including firefighters, policemen and villagers, worked at a sand extraction site to rescue seven people reported buried alive, including a 6-year-old boy who had accompanied his grandfather to work.

“I want to see Giovanni! I want to see Giovanni!” the boy’s mother, Francisca Ramirez, frantically cried. “He’s not dead. Get him out.”

President Otto Perez Molina told a news conference that he has been informed that the death toll stands at 39 people. The dead are in the northwestern state of San Marcos near the Mexican border, where the majority of the damage occurred.

The quake, about 20 miles deep, was centered about 15 miles off the coastal town of Champerico and about 100 miles southwest of Guatemala City, shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City and El Salvador.

Survivors talked of widespread landslides and people trapped.

“I’ve been in Guatemala for almost two years I am used to earthquakes. This was a lot more severe, a lot more shaky,” said Peace Corps volunteer Adam Baker, 27, of Carmel, Ind., who tweeted a picture of a small landslide behind his house in the nearby state of Quetzaltenango. “Things fell in my kitchen.”

Perez said more than 2,000 soldiers were deployed from a base in San Marcos to help with disaster relief. A plane had already made two trips with special disaster relief teams to the San Marcos area, about 80 miles from the epicenter. He asked that civilians in the country of 14 million stay put and not travel on highways because of the collapse highways and debris. He also encouraged people in the affected areas to evacuate.

The president said the country was on the highest level of alert for subsequent earthquakes in the next few hours.

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