MEXICO CITY (NEWS 1130) – A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing more than 200 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust
The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country’s south, and it occurred as Mexicans commemorated the anniversary of a 1985 quake that killed thousands.
Dozens of buildings collapsed into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. A column of smoke rose from a structure in one central neighborhood in the capital. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.
Morelos Governor Graco Ramirez reported on Twitter that at least 42 people had died in his state south of Mexico City. Ramirez says that 12 of the dead were in the city Jojutla and four were in the state capital of Cuernavaca, which is a city of about 350,000 people.
At least 11 others died in Puebla state, according to Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for the state’s Interior Department.
Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said at least eight had died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital.
There were no immediate official reports of deaths in the capital, but journalists witnessed some people who had apparently died.
Rescue workers rushed to the site of damaged or collapsed buildings in the capital, and reporters saw onlookers cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble.
Se derrumba edificio en Alvaro Obregón, Condesa, CDMX
Huele a gas. Personas heridas salen del lugar pic.twitter.com/PDkeJHBfl5
— Ruido en la Red (@RuidoEnLaRed) September 19, 2017
The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 123 kilometres southeast of Mexico City.
The earthquake caused buildings to sway on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that did major damage to the capital.
John Gibson is a Vancouver man currently working in the Sante Fe district of Mexico City.
“I’ve been in several earthquakes before. This was a very big earthquake, pretty severe shaking, everybody left the building quite quickly… We all had to stay outside of the building for about an hour while the building was inspected.”
He says everyone’s worried about loved ones in other parts of the country.
Joel Sanchez, who lives in Mexico City, wasn’t hurt.
“We are OK, a little bit scared and worried about the family but fortunately most of them are fine.”
On Mexico City’s main boulevard, thousands of people streamed out of buildings into the streets in a panic, filling the plaza around the Independence Monument with a mass of people.
Traffic came to a standstill, as masses of workers blocked streets. Clouds of dust rose from fallen pieces of facades. Office workers hugged each other to calm themselves.
In the city’s Roma neighborhood, which was struck hard by the 85 quake, small piles of stucco and brick fallen from building facades littered the streets.
Two men calmed a woman, blood trickling form a small wound on her knee, seated on a stool in the street, telling her to breathe deeply.
At a nearby market, a worker in a hard hat walked around the outside of the building, warning people not to smoke as a smell of cooking gas filled the air.
Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, had been in a taxi a few blocks away when the quake struck. She said she saw glass bursting out of the windows of some buildings.
Earlier in the day buildings across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake.
Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.