MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Catholic Relief Services will work with its partners in Guatemala and will offer whatever assistance is necessary after a magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck the country, said the agency’s country director.

Anne Bousquet told Catholic News Service from Guatemala City that the agency contacted its partners Nov. 7 and would be working in San Marcos, the Guatemalan municipality suffering the worst damage. She said she expected CRS would be working with the Guatemalan government’s rescue and relief officials, whose response has been “solid and timely.”

In a telegram Nov. 8 to Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela Nunez of Vera Paz, president of the Guatemalan bishops’ conference, Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for the earthquake victims and prayed God would “comfort those affected by such an enormous misfortune.”


The pope also prayed that the response to the earthquake would be one of solidarity and charity, and he asked “Christian communities, civil institutions and people of good will” to provide aid to the survivors.

The earthquake struck shortly after 10:30 a.m. just off the country’s Pacific Coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said at least 48 people had been killed, while another 23 remained still missing after the temblor, Guatemala’s worst since 1976.

Perez said via Twitter that he visited 150 patients in a San Marcos hospital, which was functioning despite being damaged.

“These are not the strongest of structures,” Bousquet said of buildings in San Marcos, where construction with materials such as adobe is common.

She said the earthquake damaged the homes of some local CRS workers, none of whom were injured. It also wrecked the Caritas offices in San Marcos, located near the border with Mexico.

Little damage was reported in Mexico, although the earthquake was felt as far north as Mexico City.


Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Vatican City.