3 dead in magnitude 6.9 quake near Tajumulco, Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Three people died and seven were injured in a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in western Guatemala near the border with Mexico on Wednesday, according to the national emergency coordination agency.

The dead included two women in the city of San Marcos, one of a heart attack and the other from a wall falling on her, as well as a homeless man in the town of San Sebastian Retalhueleu who was struck by a piece falling from a church as he passed. Both were close to the quake's epicenter.

The pre-dawn quake caused moderate damage to homes, triggered some landslides across highways and injured at least five people.

"We greatly mourn the loss of lives," President Jimmy Morales said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the tremor was centered 8 kilometers (5 miles) southwest of Tajumulco, Guatemala about 111 kilometers (69 miles) below the surface.

Guatemala's emergency coordination agency said the quake struck at 1:29 a.m. local time (3:29 EDT) in the department of San Marcos west of the capital near the Mexican border, but was felt throughout the country.

Authorities reported several departments, or states, without electricity.

The region of the epicenter is mountainous and sparsely populated with communities scattered around the base of the dormant Tajumulco volcano. Most residents are small-scale farmers or run small businesses.

The epicenter was 20 kilometers (13 miles) west of San Marcos, Guatemala, which has about 25,000 residents.

Officials announced that school would be canceled Wednesday in the area to allow inspections of the buildings.

The earthquake swayed buildings in the capital waking residents, but not causing damage.

Across the border in Chiapas, Mexico, Gov. Manuel Velasco said via Twitter that there were reports of cracked walls and shattered windows in Huixtla, but so far no injuries. The state's Civil Protection authorities said the quake was felt throughout the state.

There was no tsunami warning.

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