GUATEMALA CITY - A strong earthquake off the coast of Guatemala on Wednesday shook buildings in Guatemala City, killed eight people and caused evacuations as far away as Mexico City.

A local fire chief said the dead were buried under rubble in three different Guatemalan towns. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a 7.5 magnitude quake in 1976 that claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Landslides were blocking roads in some areas, authorities said, and about 40 houses were severely damaged after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit at 10:35 a.m. local time (1635 GMT).

The quake struck off Guatemala's Pacific coast, 15 miles (24 km) south of Champerico, Guatemala, and 101 miles (163 km) west-southwest of the capital, the US Geological Survey said.

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