Guatemalans huddle in streets after deadly quake

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Perez flew to San Marcos to view the damage in this lush mountainous region of 50,000 indigenous farmers and ranchers, many belonging to the Mam ethnic group.

“One thing is to hear about what happened and another thing entirely is to see it,” the president told The Associated Press. “As a Guatemalan I feel sad … to see mothers crying for their lost children.”

Perez said the government would pay for the funerals of all victims in the impoverished region.

Efrain Ramos helped load a tiny casket carrying the body of his 6-year-old niece from San Marcos’ morgue to a waiting pickup truck.

“The little girl died when a wall fell over her,” a shocked Ramos told a reporter. He said the girl was playing in her room when the quake hit.

Sobbing uncontrollably, the girl’s mother hugged the coffin wrapped with white lace and tulle.

Ramos said the family would escort his niece Rosa’s body back home for a viewing.

The quake, which was 20 miles deep, was centered 15 miles off the coastal town of Champerico and 100 miles southwest of Guatemala City. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a 1976 temblor that killed 23,000.

Officials said most of 100 missing were from San Marcos, where people farm corn and herd cattle, mostly for their own survival.

Hospital officials in San Marcos said they had received 150 injured.

Perez said more than 2,000 soldiers were deployed to help with the disaster. A plane had made at least two trips to carry relief teams to the area.

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Associated Press writer Sonia Perez-Diaz reported this story in San Marcos and Romina Ruiz-Goiriena reported from Guatemala City.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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