Magnitude 8 Earthquake Strikes Off Mexico's Southern Coast

The quake struck late on Thursday, and was recorded as a magnitude 8.4 on the Richter scale according to Mexico's National Seismological Service. Government officials said that at least five people died in the country's south. President Enrique Pena Nieto said that the quake, the biggest the country has seen in a century, had caused major damage and caused 1 million people to lose power, though it has been restored to about 800,000 already.

The US Tsunami Warning Center cautioned that widespread, devastating tidal waves were possible on Mexico's coast, as well as in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador. Shortly thereafter, authorities reported a tsunami was indeed headed towards the coast, fortunately only 0.7 meters (2.3 feet) tall. Pena Nieto then said that a tsunamis were no longer a top concern.

The quake's epicenter was about 123 km (76 miles) south of the town of Pijijiapan in Chiapas state, but the shock was felt 1000 km (650 miles) as far away as Mexico City, sending residents fleeing swaying buildings and knocking out electricity in parts of the city. The quake was also felt in much of Guatemala, which borders Chiapas.

Mexico's civil protection agency reported that the last comparable tremor was a 1985 earthquake that killed thousands and destroyed entire buildings in the country's heavily populated capital. Civil Defense officials wrote on Twitter that their personnel were patrolling the streets in Chiapas aiding residents and looking for damage. They also issued a warning for aftershocks, several of which themselves registered a 5.0 magnitude according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco told broadcaster Televisa some homes had been damaged and a shopping center had collapsed in the town of San Cristobal. "Homes, schools and hospitals have been affected," Velasco said. In Tabasco state, next to Chipas, Governor Arturo Nunez said two of the dead were small children who were residents of his state. One child was crushed by a falling wall while the other was an infant who perished when his ventilator stopped functioning after a power outage in a hospital. There were also reports of bad damage in Oaxaca state, with buildings collapsed and reduced to rubble. Throughout all three southern states, rescue workers rushed to check for anyone trapped by the debris.

Courtesy:DW

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