Strong earthquake hits off Guatemala

A strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Monday, sending residents into the streets in panic but there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

"We all ran into the street because the quake wouldn't stop. We were very scared," said Flory de Estrada, 32, a resident of the southern city of Escuintla.

The quake shook homes in the capital for up to a minute and residents in the city of about 2 million people reported paintings fell from walls. Small landslides hit rural roads, Guatemalan radio reported.

An earthquake of 6.1 is capable of causing severe damage but the fire department said the worst initial damage reported was cracks in eight houses in the department of San Marcos.

USGS reported the quake was at a depth of 49.4 miles (79.5 km). Radio stations reported electricity blackouts in Guatemala City and Escuintla.

The quake struck at 9:03 p.m. (4:03 a.m. British time on Tuesday) with an epicentre 45 miles (73 km) south-southeast of Escuintla, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

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