Mexico earthquake of magnitude 8.2 strikes off Pacific coast
earthquake described by Mexico's
president as the country's
strongest in a century has
struck off the southern coast,
killing at least 15 people.
The quake, which President Enrique Pe¤a Nieto said
measured 8.2, struck in the Pacific, about 87km (54 miles) south-west of
A tsunami warning was issued for Mexico, with three-metre-high
waves possible, and other nearby countries.
Severe damage has been reported in Oaxaca and Chiapas
The quake, which struck at 23:50 local time on
Thursday (04:50 GMT Friday), was felt in Mexico City, with buildings
swaying and people running into the street. The tremors there, about
1,000km from the epicentre, were reported to have lasted up to a minute.
President Pe¤a Nieto said some 50 million Mexicans
would have felt the tremor and that the death toll might rise.
Among the deaths were at least four in Chiapas. Two
children were killed in Tabasco state, one a baby who died when power
was cut to a respirator.
One person also died in Guatemala, its president has
Social media images showed collapsed buildings in the
Mexican state of Oaxaca, including in the city of the same name and in
Juchitan, where the municipal palace and a number of other structures
Local reports speak of a hospital in Juchitan also
collapsing and say there are a number of deaths in the city.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said that
tsunami waves "reaching more than three metres above the tide level are
possible along the coasts of Mexico". There is a coastal evacuation in
Chiapas state, where a state of emergency has been declared.
The PTWC warned of tsunami threats for El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica, but at lower wave levels.
At magnitude 8.2, the quake outstrips the deadly 1985
tremor that hit close to Mexico City and caused thousands of deaths.
The US Geological Survey measured the latest quake
slightly lower, at 8.1, saying it struck at a depth of 70km.
Damage in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, about 300km from
A collapsed building in the town of Matias Romero in
More than a dozen aftershocks ranging from 4.3 to 5.7
in magnitude have been recorded closer to the Mexican coast.
Mr Pe¤a Nieto warned there might be more.
He also said the Salina Cruz refinery on the southern
coast had temporarily suspended operations.
Schools have been closed in 11 Mexican states.
Jonathan Amos, BBC science correspondent
This is the biggest quake experienced anywhere in
2017. Going on the statistics, you would expect at least one magnitude 8
to occur somewhere on the planet each year.
It occurred where the Pacific ocean floor is drawn
under Mexico and Guatemala. A great slab of rock, known as the Cocos
tectonic plate, is driving towards the coast at a rate of 75mm per year.
As it jerks downwards into the Earth's interior, about 200km offshore,
large tremors are the inevitable outcome.
There have been three magnitude 7s in 2017, with a 7.9
recorded deep under Papua New Guinea back in January. This latest event,
being an 8.2, is nearly three times as energetic. That tells you
something about how the magnitude scale works.
Fortunately, this event was deep, too. The rupture,
which will have ripped across more than 100km of fault line, was down at
70km. That will have limited some of the shaking, but as we've seen
there is still extensive damage.
Some electricity cuts have been reported in the
capital and social media video showed lampposts and the famous Angel of
Independence statue swaying violently, but there are no reports of major
Journalist Franc Contreras, who is in Mexico City,
told the BBC: "You could hear loud cracks in the concrete. It sounded
like a giant wooden branch being just broken open violently.
Guatemala's Red Cross tweeted damage in the town of
Tacana, close to the Mexican border
"People were streaming out of the hallways here. And
everybody walking out single file into the streets, trying to avoid
overhead high power lines."
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales appealed for calm
on national television and in a Twitter post.
"We have reports of some damage and the death of one
person, even though we still don't have exact details," Associated Press
quoted Mr Morales as saying.
Cindy Lamothe, who is in the Guatemalan city of
Antigua, told the BBC: "It was swaying so intensely it felt like we were
in a boat and I heard neighbours screaming through the walls... it
lasted almost three minutes."
No tsunami warning has been issued for the US west
Mexico is currently also being threatened on its
eastern coast by Hurricane Katia.
The category one hurricane is about 300km south-east
of Tampico and has sustained winds of 140km/h the National Hurricane
Courtesy: BBC News
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