The earthquake, which measured 7.4 on the Richter scale, was the largest recorded in Guatemala since 1976. It hit the country at 10.30am local time approximately 15 miles from the town of Champerico on the pacific coast.
Most of the country felt the shock. The worst-affected areas included San Marcos province, where many people were at work when the earthquake happened and fled their offices in fear. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. In San Marcos alone at least 760 people are currently living in shelters. The Guatemalan Energy Minister said that over 70,000 people were left without electricity.
The situation remains chaotic. Landslides have prevented access to some of the worst-affected areas and as roads are gradually cleared the death toll is likely to rise. President Otto Perez Molina has declared three days of mourning.
SOS Children have been working in Guatemala since 1976, when we responded to an earthquake which destroyed the town of San Juan Sacatepéquez, 19 miles from Guatemala City. Today, our charity has five SOS Children’s Villages in the country, as well as SOS Schools, Nurseries and Social Centres which provide support to families in the community. All together, we currently reach out to 2,500 people in Guatemala. Thankfully, none of our programmes have been affected by the recent earthquake.
SOS Children are expanding our work in the country to help those affected by the disaster. With an established presence, we are well-positioned to help those in need. We are planning a 100,000 Euro response in order to address the immediate needs of families and children who have lost everything. We will provide shelter, clothes, food, and will also run a programme of psychological support to help children to come to terms with the disaster.
We need your support to carry out this vital Emergency Relief Programme. You can contribute to our work in Guatemala taking out a sponsorship to support our long-term work in the country.
A one-off donation will make a real difference to our work, and help us to reach more children in need.