Guatemala City, Guatemala (AHN) - A strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the Guatemalan coast and parts of El Salvador Wednesday causing residents in the city to scamper outside their buildings and traffic snarling to an almost halt.
Early reports indicates damages to several homes and some people missing, although there was still no official confirmation on this. Hugo Hernandez, executive director of the National Coordination for Disaster said there were no immediate reports of damages or casualties except that all phone lines in the city were down.
Benedicto Giron, spokesman for the disaster agency said officials were using radios to communicate and coordinate any search and rescue efforts.
Giron said, "It rattled a lot of nerves."
Francois dela Roche, Latin America's director for humanitarian and emergency affairs for aid organizatioin World Vision said that aid workers across Guatemala reported only minor damage to homes in a couple of rural communities.
Dela Roche said from Antigua, Guatemala, "I didn't notice it at first but then felt this long, swaying motion back and forward."
Residents in high-rise buildings and homes were asked by authorities to evacuate as expected aftershocks might cause further damages.
The U.S. Geological service said the quake struck at 1:29 pm local time, about 70 miles from the capital, Guatemala City. The intensity of the quake was felt in some parts of El Salvador.
The U.S.G.S. said the epicenter of the tremor was estimated at 40 miles below the Earth's surface. An earthquake closer to the surface generally causes more damage.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said a Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.
Giron said they were still trying to establish with local municipalities to coordinate any efforts that might be needed in those areas.
Outside the capital, landslides were reported in the southwest province of Escuintla, but they apparently caused no casualties, Giron said. He added, however, that phone service was knocked out in some areas and information was only trickling in slowly.