A 7.4-magnitude earthquake has left up to 50 people dead off the Pacfic coast of the Latin American country of  Guatemala.

Landslides are reported to have buried roads and it could take 24 hours to restore links to the quake-hit area.

Frightened people fled from offices and homes around the region, as buildings shook from Mexico City to San Salvador, the BBC reported.

About 73,000 people were left without electricity after the quake hit at 10.35 am local time yesterday about 15 miles from the Guatemalan town of Champerico.

Guatemala’s Seismological Institute director Eddy Sanchez said it had been the biggest tremor in the country since 1976 when 25,000 people died in 7.5-magnitude quake.

There have been dozens of aftershocks, four of them over a magnitude of 5.

President Otto Perez Molina declared a national alert and advised people to evacuate tall buildings as a precaution.

He said many more people were still missing and 153 were being housed in emergency shelters.