5.6-magnitude quake shakes Guatemala, no damage reported

The location of a 5.6-magnitude earthquake which struck at a depth of 99.7km below the surface, near Guanagazapa, Guatemala, on June 17, 2018.
The location of a 5.6-magnitude earthquake which struck at a depth of 99.7km below the surface, near Guanagazapa, Guatemala, on June 17, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GUATEMALA CITY (REUTERS, AFP) - A 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook Guatemala on Sunday (June 17), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), but disaster officials said it did not cause any damage, including at the Fuego volcano where recent eruptions have killed 110 people.

Strong shaking was felt but "all is calm", Guatemala's disaster agency said in a statement.

A Reuters witness said tremors were not felt in the capital Guatemala City.

The epicentre was near the Pacific Coast less than 18.7km from Escuintla, an area at the Fuego volcano's base that suffered the most deaths and injuries from eruptions of gas and ash that began two weeks ago.

Guatemala said on Sunday that it would end efforts to find nearly 200 people that went missing in the disaster.

The tremor struck at a depth of 100km, according to the USGS.

Meanwhile, the authorities on Sunday called off a search for the nearly 200 people missing since Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted earlier this month, devastating the surrounding countryside.

Officials have confirmed the deaths of 110 people as a result of the volcanic eruption on June 3, but another 197 remain unaccounted for.

A spokesman for the government's civil protection agency, David de Leon, said the agencies involved decided to end the search "due to the fact that the area is uninhabitable and of high risk".

The volcano, 35km south-west of the capital, is still generating four or five weak explosions an hour, sending a column of gray ash more than 1,000m into the sky.

Additionally, rains were forecast for Sunday, posing a danger of volcanic mudflows.

More than 3,600 villagers have been forced to take temporary refuge in schools and community halls.

The suspended search had been focused on the hardest-hit communities of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Recreo.

The only exception to the suspension is in the area of Alotenango, where volunteer firefighters continued to search for two colleagues who went missing on the day of the disaster.