The 7.4 magnitude quake that took place Wednesday off the coast of Guatemala was the result of slippage of the Cocos and Caribbean tectonic plates, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. These are the same plates that cause earthquakes in Costa Rica.
The quake was south of Champerico, Guatemala, near the border with México, and the Survey said that at the latitude of this earthquake, the Cocos plate moves north northeast with respect to the Caribbean and North America plates at a velocity of approximately 70-80 millimeters per year and subducts beneath Central America at the Middle America Trench.
There have been more than 50 earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater within 250 kilometers of the estimated epicenter of Wednesday’s quake, said the survey. That’s about 155 miles. A December 1983 quake took place at nearly the same spot as the one Wednesday, the Survey said.
Reports from the scene say that at least 30 people died and damage was heavy in Quetzaltenango and San Marcos, said the Survey.
Costa Rica quickly expressed its solidarity with the Guatemalan people.
A Sept. 5 quake off the Costa Rican Pacific coast was estimated at 7.6 magnitude, but damage was considerably lighter and only one death was linked directly to the event.