By ROMINA RUIZ-GOIRIENA 11/07/12 02:27 PM ET EST AP
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said in a radio interview that the country of 14 million had been placed on its highest level of disaster alert and he asked people to evacuate tall buildings as an emergency measure. The country's minister of communications and infrastructure told Emisoras Unidas that landslides had cut off several highways in the west of the country, and it would take at least 24 hours to reestablish transport links to San Marcos, the capital of the department or state of the same name located along Guatemala's northwest border with Mexico.
A resident who identified herself as Mrs. Baglia told the radio station from the small town of San Pedro Sacatepequez, near San Marcos, that people had fled into the streets after being told of a tsunami alert.
"People are in distress and no one can calm down," she said.
It was the biggest earthquake in Guatemala since a 7.5-magnitude temblor caused widespread death and destruction in the Central American country on Feb. 4, 1976. More than 23,000 people were killed and thousands more were injured in that earlier temblor, about 100 miles northwest of Guatemala City.