The government of Guatemala reduced Saturday to 42 the death toll of this week's magnitude-7.2 earthquake that devastated several areas in the northwest part of the country and was initially said to have claimed 52 lives.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina told a press conference at the presidential residence that after "checking" the official report with judicial and municipal authorities, "the true number of deaths" was found to be 42.
The president also lowered to two the number of people who went missing in Wednesday's quake, down from 23, and said they are buried under rubble in the province of San Marcos and that emergency management teams are working on their rescue.
Perez Molina, who Friday night met with his Cabinet to analyze the devastation left by the quake, said that in the coming days he will present a reconstruction strategy for damaged property and infrastructure.
Up to now, he said, the damage has not been quantified, but said the government has the necessary funds to deal with the emergency.
"In charge of the reconstruction plan will be Roxana Baldetti, who will have the support of all the institutions" to guarantee efficiency and speed in getting the job done," Perez Molina said.
Elsewhere, dozens of brigades started demolishing Saturday close to 100 homes and buildings declared "uninhabitable" by technicians of the Conred disaster management agency.
The quake, which struck at 10:35 a.m. Wednesday, was the strongest to hit Guatemala since the Feb. 4, 1976, magnitude-7.5 temblor that claimed the lives of more than 25,000 people and caused millions of dollars in damage.
The epicenter of Wednesday's seismic event was located offshore, 24 kilometers (14 miles) south of the Pacific coast town of Champerico, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The quake was also felt strongly in El Salvador and parts of southeastern Mexico. EFE