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On 4 February 1976, an earthquake struck Guatemala City, Guatemala, at about 3:01 am local time. About 23,000 were killed; approximately 76,000 were injured, and about 250,000 homes were destroyed. The earthquake registered 7.5 on the moment magnitude scale. It originated in the Motagua Fault, and had its epicenter in the about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Guatemala City.


The Earthquake


The 1976 Guatemala earthquake struck Guatemala city in the early hours of the morning, at 3:01 am local time, when much of population were asleep in their beds, which is believed to account for the high death toll. The quake registered at about 7.5 on the moment magnitude scale. The epicenter was about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Guatemala City, Guatemala, and the quake originated in the Motagua Fault. Shock waves were felt as far away as Mexico City, Mexico.




About 23,000 people were killed, and about 76,000 were injured. Officials announced that as many as 5,000 might be buried under rubble. About one million people were left homeless-this was about one sixth of Guatemala’s total population at the time.


The earthquake and its aftershocks caused power outages and flooding throughout the country; many adobe homes were unable to withstand the earthquake and were destroyed. In Honduras, the earthquake inflicted damage on three towns hear the Guatemalan border, but caused no deaths.

Help From the International Community


The U.S. government assisted with $3.6 million in emergency aid, and voluntary contributions from the U.S. amounted to almost $15 million within the first six days after the quake. The Organization of American States contributed $500,000, and food, clothing, medical supplies, doctors and relief workers arrived from almost all Latin American countries.


U.S. Army helicopters transported supplies to remote villages, and U.S. military personnel helped Guatemalan soldiers maintain civil order.





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