San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala extends state of emergency due to earthquake damage

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina on Monday extended by 30 days a state of emergency declared in the western region of the country following a devastating magnitude-7.4 earthquake on Nov. 7 that left 44 dead. By extending the emergency declaration, the president hopes to quicken reconstruction efforts.

“The secretary general of the presidency issued a document [extending the state of emergency] before the previous declaration expires so that Congress can ratify it,” Pérez Molina said in a press conference on Monday.

The day of the earthquake, the government declared a 30-day state of emergency in the departments of Retalhuleu, Quetzaltenango, Sololá, Quiché, Totonicapán, San Marcos and Huehuetenango in order to prioritize relief and reconstruction efforts.

Two days later, officials added Suchitepéquez, southwest of the capital, to the list, bringing the total number of affected departments to eight.

According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America, Guatemala needs $207 million to rebuild damaged areas.

The earthquake’s epicenter was located below the Pacific Ocean, 24 kilometers from the coast, according to U.S. seismologists. Some 3 million people were affected and an estimated 7,000 homes were seriously damaged.

On Monday, three temblors (two registering magnitudes 4.5 and 4.3) shook El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. There were no reports of injuries or serious damage.

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