Guatemala earthquake: 7.4-magnitude earthquake hits off the coast of Guatemala

Death toll rises to 48

9:20 P.M. UPDATE (CNN) -- At least 48 people were killed after an earthquake struck off Guatemala's coast Wednesday, President Otto Perez Molina said.

UPDATE: (CNN) -- Three people were confirmed dead after an earthquake Wednesday in Guatemala, but the number could rise, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said. Unconfirmed preliminary reports indicate up to 15 people were killed, 15 more were trapped and 100 people are missing after the quake, he said.

EARLIER STORY:

(CNN) -- A 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit Wednesday off the coast of Guatemala, near its border with Mexico, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake was felt throughout Central America and as far north as Mexico City.

There were reports of homes and schools destroyed in western Guatemala, the country's president, Otto Perez Molina, told CNN en Español.

The earthquake was centered about 15 miles from the Guatemalan coastal city of Champerico, at a depth of 26 miles.

In Guatemala, many people fled buildings when the tremor first hit.

Some 125,000 people were without power in Guatemala because of the quake, Perez Molina said.

The president said he had heard reports of some deaths, but declined to confirm any fatalities until his government collects more information.

It was fortunate that the school year in Guatemala had recently come to end, so that no children were inside the school buildings that were damaged, Perez Molina said.

Fearing powerful aftershocks, the government issued a "red alert" that warns people to take precautions, such as evacuating tall buildings. The alert stretches along the country's entire Pacific coast.

CNN's Glenda Umana and Rey Rodriguez, along with journalist Miguel Salay, contributed to this report.

 
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