Latin America & Caribbean

Four earthquakes rattle Guatemala in under three hours

People spend the night outside in tents in Cuilapa
Image caption The region is prone to earthquakes

Four earthquakes hit Guatemala within three hours, killing at least one person and triggering landslides.

The quakes, the biggest a 5.8 magnitude, were centred some 50km (30 miles) southeast of Guatemala City but tremors were felt across the country.

Many residents spent Monday night outside because of fears of further quakes or damage to their homes.

President Alvaro Colom urged calm and said rescuers had been sent to the affected areas.

The first, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake, hit at midday on Monday (18:00 GMT), followed some 30 minutes later by one of 5.8 magnitude and then two smaller ones, according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicentres were near Cuilapa in the Santa Rosa region.

Many of the buildings there are made of mud bricks and are vulnerable to collapse.

"4.8 is a moderate magnitude for well-constructed buildings but for mud brick buildings it's very dangerous," Eddy Sanchez, the head of Guatemala's geological institute, told Reuters.

At least three other people were reported missing in Cuilapa.

There has been serious damage to buildings and large cracks have appeared in roads in the region, Guatemalan media reported.

Mudslides also affected the main road to El Salvador.

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