‘52 killed, 1.2 mn affected by Guatemalan quake’

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) At least 52 people have been killed, 22 missing and 1.2 million others affected by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake which hit the country's Pacific coast Wednesday, said Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina.

The temblor also jolted Mexico and El Salvador.

"The number of people (dead) is rising, officially we have 52 dead, 22 missing, and rescue workers are searching the rubble," Xinhua quoted the president as saying in a press conference Thursday. He also announced three days of national mourning for the victims.

According to the US Geological Survey, the temblor struck at 1635 GMT, with its epicentre in the Pacific Ocean, some 24 km from Champerico municipality in Guatemala.

As many as 70 aftershocks have been recorded since the quake struck, and data from the institute of seismology shows that the earthquake has not released all the energy. So more aftershocks are expected in the coming hours, President Molina said.

He said the most worrying situation is cracks in several roads and mountains of western Guatemala and urged citizens not to travel in these regions. "I'm about to sign the decree to declare a state of calamity in the affected departments. "

The Guatemalan government has sent 44 tonnes of humanitarian aid to San Marcos province, the hardest hit area, and other provinces affected by the violent quake.

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