At least 26 dead in Mexico quake

8.2 reading stronger than 1985 Mexico City tragedy but capital spared this time

A woman points at her damaged house in Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz state of southern Mexico, after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake on Friday. (EPA Photo)

Mexico has been hit by its strongest earthquake in more than a century, shaking buildings in the capital and killing at least 26 people in southern states. The tremor brought memories of a 1985 earthquake in Mexico City that killed thousands.

The quake struck offshore near Chiapas state at a depth of 69.7 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey. Mexico’s National Seismological Service said the temblor, which struck at 11:49pm Thursday local time, reached 8.2 magnitude. Mexico City’s mayor said the capital seemed to have withstood the quake well, although classes were being suspended on Friday in order to review school structures. Mexico City is more than 800 kilometres from the capital of Chiapas.

If the magnitude is confirmed, it will be stronger than an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in 1985 that flattened hundreds of buildings in the capital and left more than 9,000 dead. President Enrique Pena Nieto warned of aftershocks as strong as magnitude 7 and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center sent an alert for the whole Pacific coast of Mexico for waves as high as three metres.

While there were no initial reports of major damage in Mexico City this time, the death toll jumped to at least 26 people in southern states. At least 20 people died in Oaxaca state and home collapsed, Governor Alejandro Murat said by phone. While Pena Nieto said there were two other fatalities in Tabasco state. 

Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco said hospitals, roads and bridges were damaged and four people died in his state. while TV Azteca showed images of small buildings that collapsed in nearby Oaxaca state.

The state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos. Pemex said there were no reports of damage to its Salina Cruz refinery in Oaxaca, the largest in Mexico.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that potentially hazardous tsunami waves were possible along some coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador.

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