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GUATEMALA CITY (9 Nov 2012) – Plan is providing specialist psychosocial teams to help children affected by a powerful earthquake that shook cities in four areas on Guatemala's southwest Pacific coast.
The earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter Scale (IX on the Modified Mercalli Scale) has affected 1.2 million people, killed more than 50 dead and damaged over 2,200 homes and seven schools in the San Marcos, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango and Quiché departments, according to early assessments.
Plan Guatemala says that government rescue crews worked overnight in San Marcos searching the rubble for survivors and victims. Power has also been restored to 95% of the areas.
Plan Guatemala Country Director Débora Cóbar said that after disasters such as earthquakes, girls and boys can become separated from their families, they can be scared, anxious and unsure of what to do. Girls are particularly vulnerable.
“We have experience working on damage assessment and child protection in shelters which is very important because it makes the difference of how boys and girls are taken care of and protected from harm.
"We are supporting government efforts on needs assessment and child protection."
Cóbar said that the earthquake struck during the school holidays which allows for time to repair the seven schools which were damaged before the start of the next term.
Wednesday’s earthquake was the strongest to hit the country since 1976, when a 7.5-magnitude quake killed more than 20,000 people.
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Further information contact:
Miguel Vargas Corzantes
PR Officer, Plan Guatemala
Landline: (502) 2323 0202 ext. 2001
Mobile: (502) 5698 7565
Regional Internal Communications Specialist
Plan International – Regional Office, Panama
Landline: +507-317-1700 Ext 977
Press Officer, Disasters & Emergencies
Plan, International HQ
Landline Direct: +44 (0)1483 733 227
Global Roaming Mobile: +44 (0) 7720 736 884
Note to editors:
- While the Richter Scale measures the physical energy released by the earthquake, the Modified Mercalli Scale assesses the effect on the earth's surface. In this instance a 7.4 on the Richter Scale is equivalent to IX on the Modified Mercalli Scale which means Ruinous: Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
- The preliminary estimate of the magnitude of the earthquake has been revised downward from 7.4 to 7.2 on the Richter Scale by Guatemala’s INSIVUMEH (National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology and Hydrology).
Founded 75 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world. We work in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations. www.plan-international.org