9 Nov 2012

More than 50 die in Guatemala earthquake

11:58 am on 9 November 2012

At least 52 people have died in the most powerful earthquake to hit Guatemala in more than three decades.

The 7.4-magnitude tremor hit just off the coast of the Central American country on Wednesday, injuring many people, damaging thousands of houses and leaving large areas without power.

Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina says 22 people are still missing and as many as 10,000 houses may be uninhabitable, the BBC reports.

The mountainous town of San Marcos and the surrounding area was hit particularly hard, with 40 people confirmed dead.

Many residents spent the night outside, huddled under blankets and afraid to go back into their homes.

Rescue teams were searching the rubble for survivors amid scores of aftershocks, some over magnitude 5.0.