Church Assisting following 7.4 Earthquake in Guatemala
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
The Church is offering assistance in Guatemala after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake rattled most of the Central American nation.
No members or missionaries were killed or injured in the November 7 temblor that claimed the lives of more than 40 people.
While the number of quake-related deaths was relatively low, the disaster exacted a costly toll across the country. More than 10,000 homes were damaged. Of those, 2,769 will have to be totally or partially demolished, the Associated Press reported.
While no members were seriously harmed, there were many who endured several terrifying moments during the largest temblor to hit Guatemala since 1976, when a massive quake killed 23,000 people.
San Marcos Guatemala Stake President Allangumar Velasquez was at home with his family when the earthquake began. The family initially attempted to escape out the front door but were unable to because of the intensity of the rumbling. They managed to run out the back door and into the street. The Velasquez home was severely damaged, and the family has been forced to find shelter with relatives.
The homes of several other Latter-day Saint families in the San Marcos area in eastern Guatemala were also significantly damaged. No structural problems were found at either the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple or the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple. Cracks were found in the walls and floor of a Church meetinghouse in San Marcos, and the ceiling was damaged at a meetinghouse in the town of San Pedro, according to the Central America Area office.
Working with welfare leaders at Church headquarters, local priesthood leaders implemented a humanitarian project to distribute food, building supplies, and other provisions to impacted members and others in need.
The quake was centered 15 miles off the coastal town of Champerico and 100 miles southwest of Guatemala City.
The earthquake is not the only natural disaster affecting Guatemala. An ongoing drought has impacted 53,000 families, including many farmers who have lost their crops to the parched conditions. The Church’s Welfare Department is working with Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti—who recently visited Welfare Square in Salt Lake City—to help distribute food, medical supplies, and planting seeds to those most in need, according to Church emergency response director Lynn Samsel.