Guatemalan emergency agencies recovered two bodies that had been buried in rubble since the powerful earthquake that struck the country last week, bringing the official death toll from the disaster to 44, authorities said Tuesday.

The latest victims were found in two communities in San Marcos province, the region most affected by the magnitude-7.2 temblor that struck the Central American nation last Wednesday.

Participating in the recovery efforts are dozens of soldiers and firefighters as well as residents of the San Marcos communities.

Besides the 44 fatalities, the quake left 9,414 houses damaged and forced thousands of people into temporary shelters.

Authorities have still not tabulated the economic losses from the earthquake but President Otto Perez - who is visiting the affected areas - said on Tuesday that an estimate could be in hand by next Friday.

The government decreed a state of emergency in eight of the country's 22 provinces to facilitate the sending of aid to the affected zones and the process of reconstruction.

Last week's earthquake 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. EFE