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Guatemala Earthquake

Feb. 4, 1976: Guatemala Earthquake

On the morning of Feb. 4, 1976, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Guatemala City, killing more than 23,000 people, seriously injuring 70,000 and leaving a million homeless. Many of the city’s roads and bridges were destroyed, hurting rescue operations for the thousands trapped under the rubble. The National Photographic Interpretation Center – an NGA predecessor – exploited U-2 imagery over Guatemala to assess the damage. It is an early example of high-resolution imagery of a foreign natural disaster being made available to the affected nation in time to be useful in support of disaster relief.