Mon, Dec 12, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Strong earthquake hits Mexico

SHAKEN UP:A 6.5 magnitude quake about 170km from Mexico City shook parts of nine states, causing tall buildings to sway and leaving at least three people dead

AP, MEXICO CITY

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck in Mexico’s western Guerrero state on Saturday night, shaking buildings and causing panic in the nation’s capital and the Pacific resort of Acapulco. Officials said at least three people died, but there were no reports of widespread damage.

The US Geological Service initially estimated the quake at magnitude at 6.8, but downgraded it to 6.7 and then 6.5. A quake of that magnitude is capable of causing severe damage, although the depth of this temblor lessened its impact.

The Geological Service said the quake occurred at a depth of 64.9km. It was centered about 42km southwest of Iguala in Guerrero and 166km south-southwest of Mexico City.

Mexico’s Department of the Interior said the quake was felt in parts of nine states.

Humberto Calvo, undersecretary of Guerrero’s Civil Protection Agency, said three deaths had been reported in the state. He said one man was killed when a house’s roof collapsed in Iguala, a second died in the small town of Ixcateopan and the driver of a cargo truck was killed by rocks that fell on the vehicle driving on the toll highway linking Acapulco with Mexico City.

Calvo said a secondary highway between the two cities was blocked in two places by rockslides.

High-rises swayed in the center of Mexico City for more than a minute, and shoppers were temporarily herded out of some shopping centers until the danger passed.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard reported by Twitter that no major damage had been reported. He said power failed in some parts of the city.

People in one part of Mexico City’s upscale Condesa neighborhood ran out of their houses and gathered in the streets, hugging each other while some shook and began to cry.

On one street, a group of women joined hands in a circle, closed their eyes and began to pray.

“Please God, help us and let everything be OK,” said one. “It’s OK. It’s OK. Everything is OK.”

Parts of Mexico City rest on the shaky soil of a former lake bed, which tends to magnify the effect of earthquakes. A magnitude 8.1 quake in 1985 killed as many as 10,000 people in the city.

In Acapulco, which is in Guerrero, hundreds of anxious tourists congregated in the street after fleeing rocking buildings that are strung along the coastal boulevard. Patrons also left a movie theater complex.

Authorities said they found no structural damage and had no reports of injuries in the Pacific resort, which was about 140km from the quake’s epicenter.

Rogelio Trujillo, chief of security at a Soriana department store in Acapulco, said perfume bottles, groceries and paintings had been shaken off shelves and customers had hurried outside.

Alberto Orbe, a radio operator for the city’s Civil Protection Agency, said the office had received many telephone calls from panicked residents.

The quake interrupted the annual silver festival in the tourist city of Taxco, midway between Acapulco and the capital.

A deep rumbling sound lasted for several seconds, then the whole city went dark as the ground shook. People ran out of hotels in the historic center of the old mining town and joined others who had been enjoying a band concert in the main plaza.

As people milled about, some illumination was provided from police pickup trucks doing security duty at the festival. After about 10 minutes, the band started up again and people began dancing.

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