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People who work in a seven story office building stand together behind a sign that reads in Spanish "Floor One" after evacuating their building along the El Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. A strong earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala Wednesday morning, rocking the capital and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Photos: 7.4 magnitude earthquake hits Guatemala
The Associated Press
First Published Nov 08 2012 10:48 am • Last Updated Nov 08 2012 10:50 am

SAN MARCOS, Guatemala (AP) -- The death toll in the worst Guatemala earthquake since 1976 rose Thursday to 52 people, with many of the 22 still missing expected to be among the dead, according to President Otto Perez Molina.

Perez said the powerful 7.4-magnitude quake that hit Wednesday morning off the Pacific coast affected as many as 1.2 million people as it shook nearly the entire country. He said a little more than 700 people were in shelters, with most opting to stay with family or friends.

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"They have no drinking water, no electricity, no communication and are in danger of experiencing more aftershocks," Perez told a news conference. The president said there had been 70 aftershocks in the first 24 hours after the quake, some as strong as magnitude 4.9.

Damaged homes will be among the biggest problems the country will face in the coming days, Perez added.

Guatemalans fearing aftershocks huddled in the streets of the mountain town of San Marcos, the most affected area, where at least 40 people died. Others crowded inside its hospital, the only building left with electricity.




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