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Earthquake rocks flooded El Salvador

A moderate earthquake rocked Central America Friday, sending frightened Salvadorans into the streets.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A moderate earthquake rocked Central America on Friday, causing the collapse of a rain-damaged highway bridge in Guatemala and sending thousands of frightened Salvadoran residents into the streets.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the preliminary-magnitude 5.8 quake in either of the two countries, where nearly 230 people have died during five days of floods and landslides. A magnitude-5 earthquake can cause considerable damage.

Telephone service was cut off briefly in some areas of El Salvador, and Interior Minister Rene Figueroa urged residents to obey evacuation orders for high-risk areas.

The quake forced officials to suspend their search for two coffee workers missing since Saturday when the Ilamatepec volcano erupted about 40 miles west of the capital, San Salvador.

The death toll throughout Central America from flooding and landslides already has reached 241: 160 in Guatemala, 67 in El Salvador, and 14 all together in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

With supplies of food and water running low, governments in Central America and Mexico scrambled Friday to reach isolated areas devastated by a week of intense rains. Residents who spoke to reporters via cell phone said panic was starting to grow among survivors.

The earthquake was centered 35 miles southwest of San Salvador, just offshore, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.