Thursday 19 October 2017

At least 15 dead as strongest earthquake 'since 1985' strikes off coast of Mexico

  • Earthquake of magnitude 8.1 struck off the southern coast of Mexico
  • People in capital  ran out into the streets in pyjamas and alarms sounded
  • Tsunami warning centre says wave of 0.7 metres recorded
People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake
/ AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico late September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
People gather on a street after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico late September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

An earthquake of magnitude 8.1 struck off the southern coast of Mexico late on Thursday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, killing at least 15 people, triggering small tsunami waves and damaging some buildings.

The quake was apparently stronger than a devastating 1985 tremor that flattened swathes of Mexico City and killed thousands, but initial reports of damage in the city were limited.

People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake
/ AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People walk along a street in downtown Mexico City during an quake. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLAALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People walk along a street in downtown Mexico City during an quake. Photo: / AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLAALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
People react on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLAALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
People walk along a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLAALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
People react on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake. Photo: AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLAALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
People react on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake. Photo: AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
Guests of a hotel remain outside in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake. Photo:/ AFP PHOTO / DIANA ULLOADIANA ULLOA/AFP/Getty Images
People react in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake on September 7, 2017. Photo: AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
Guests of a hotel remain outside in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake. / AFP PHOTO / DIANA ULLOADIANA ULLOA/AFP/Getty Images
People walk along a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake. / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People react on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People react on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
A young lady sits on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake on September 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
Guests of a hotel remain outside in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / DIANA ULLOADIANA ULLOA/AFP/Getty Images
Guests of a hotel remain outside in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / DIANA ULLOADIANA ULLOA/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in the Tlatelolco neigborhood of Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
Guests of a hotel remain outside on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / DIANA ULLOADIANA ULLOA/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake o / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDOPEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

The epicentre was 54 miles (87 km) southwest of the town of Pijijiapan in the southern state of Chiapas, at a depth of 43 miles. Three people were killed in the state, said Governor Manuel Velasquez. Two more people were killed in neighbouring Tabasco state, the state governor said.

It was initially understood that five people lost their lives, but this was later increased to 15 by authorities.

The quake triggered waves as high as 2.3 ft (0.7 m) in Mexico, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said. It said widespread, hazardous tsunami waves were possible within three hours. However, there was no tsunami threat for American Samoa and Hawaii, according to the U.S. Tsunami Warning System

As far as 14,000 km (8700 miles) away in the Philippines, the national disaster agency put the country’s entire eastern seaboard on alert. No forced evacuation was ordered, but residents were told to monitor emergency radio broadcasts.

In Mexico, some buildings were severely damaged in the south of the country, including a hotel where rescuers were searching to make sure nobody was trapped.

Windows were broken at Mexico City airport and power went out in several neighbourhoods of the capital. The cornice of a hotel collapsed in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, a witness said.

People gather on a street after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico late September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
People gather on a street after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico late September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut

People in the capital, one of the world's largest cities, ran out into the streets in pyjamas and alarms sounded after the quake struck just before midnight, a Reuters witness said.

Helicopters hovered overhead a few minutes later, apparently looking for damage to buildings in the city, which is built on a spongy, drained lake bed.

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

Liliana Villa (35) was in her apartment when the earthquake struck and she fled to the street in her pyjamas.

"It felt horrible, and I thought, 'this is going to fall'."

USGS reported multiple aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4.3 to 5.7.

State oil company Pemex said it was still checking for damage at its installations but has no immediate reports of problems, including at the Salina Cruz refinery, which is in the same region as the epicentre.

"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."

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