Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 1 News List

At least 32 killed as huge earthquake rocks Mexico

TSUNAMI:The quake triggered waves as high as 0.7m and Mexican television showed images of the sea retreating about 50m as coastal areas were evacuated

Reuters, MEXICO CITY

People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during a magnitude 8.1 earthquake late on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

At least 32 people were killed after a massive magnitude 8.1 earthquake, one of the biggest recorded in Mexico, struck off the nation’s southern coast late on Thursday, causing cracks in buildings and triggering a small tsunami, authorities said.

The quake was apparently stronger than a devastating 1985 temblor that flattened swathes of Mexico City and killed thousands, but this time damage to the capital was limited.

However, a number of buildings suffered severe damage in parts of southern Mexico.

Some of the worst initial reports came from the town of Juchitan in Oaxaca State, where sections of the town hall, a hotel, a bar and other buildings were reduced to rubble.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat said 23 deaths were registered in Oaxaca, 17 of them in Juchitan.

A spokesman for emergency services said seven people were also confirmed dead in the neighboring state of Chiapas.

Earlier, Tabasco Governor Arturo Nunez said two children had died in his state.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 8.1 quake had its epicenter in the Pacific Ocean, 87km southwest of the town of Pijijiapan in the impoverished southern state of Chiapas at a depth of 69km.

Rescue workers labored through the night in badly affected areas to check for people trapped in collapsed buildings.

Windows were shattered at Mexico City airport and the power went out in several districts, affecting more than 1 million people.

The cornice of a hotel came down in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, a witness said.

The tremor was felt as far away as neighboring Guatemala.

The quake triggered waves as high as 0.7m in Mexico, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Mexican television showed images of the sea retreating about 50m as the authorities evacuated some coastal areas.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the tsunami risk on the Chiapas coast was not major.

“We are alert,” he told local television.

More aftershocks were likely, the president said, advising people to check their homes and offices for structural damage and gas leaks.

The US Geological Survey reported multiple aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4.3 to 5.7.

There was no tsunami threat for American Samoa and Hawaii, according to the US Tsunami Warning System.

The national disaster agency of the Philippines put the nation’s eastern seaboard on alert, but no evacuation was ordered.

People in Mexico City, one of the world’s largest cities, ran out into the streets in pajamas as alarms sounded after the quake struck just before midnight, a witness said.

“I had never been anywhere where the earth moved so much. At first I laughed, but when the lights went out I didn’t know what to do,” said Luis Carlos Briceno, an architect, 31, who was visiting Mexico City. “I nearly fell over.”

In one central neighborhood, dozens of people stood outside after the quake, some wrapped in blankets against the cool night air. Children were crying.

Liliana Villa, 35, who was in her apartment when the quake struck, fled to the street in her nightclothes.

“It felt horrible and I thought: ‘This [building] is going to fall,’” she said.

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