At least 32 people died in an earthquake with an epicenter on Mexico-Guatemala border.
Authorities fear that number could rise, with many buildings in the south of the country sustaining structural damage. Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto said that this the strongest quake in country’s recorded history. It was apparently stronger than a devastating 1985 temblor that flattened parts of Mexico City and killed thousands, but this time, damage to the city was limited. There were electricity cuts, but no big damages.
People in Mexico City, one of the world’s largest cities, ran out into the streets in pajamas and alarms sounded after the quake struck just before midnight, a Reuters witness said. Helicopters buzzed overhead a few minutes later, apparently looking for damage to buildings in the city, which is built on a spongy, drained lake bed.
“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.”
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. Alejandro Murat, the state governor, said 23 deaths were reported in Oaxaca, 17 of them in the town of Juchitan. A spokesman for emergency services said seven people were also confirmed dead in the neighboring state of Chiapas. Earlier, the governor of Tabasco, Arturo Nunez, said two children had died in his state.
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded at least 20 aftershocks greater than magnitude of 4.0 in five hours, and the president warned that a major aftershock could still happen.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of one meter were reported on the coast or measured by ocean gauges in several other places. The center’s forecast said Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala could see waves of a meter or less. No threat was posed to Hawaii and the western and South Pacific.