A powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico late Thursday, killing at least 16 people in what the president called the quake-prone country’s biggest one in a century.
One of the most powerful earthquakes ever to strike Mexico has hit off its southern coast, killing at least 15 people, toppling houses and businesses and sending panicked people into the streets more than 650 miles away.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit off Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude as 8.1 — slightly stronger than the magnitude 8 quake of 1985 quake that killed thousands and devastated large parts of Mexico City.
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National civil defense chief Luis Felipe Puente told that at least 15 people had died, 10 of them in Oaxaca, also close to the epicenter.
Hundreds of buildings collapsed or were damage, power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people and authorities closed schools Friday in at least 11 states to check them for safety.
“The house moved like chewing gum and the light and internet went out momentarily,” said Rodrigo Soberanes, who lives near the Chiapas state city of San Cristobal de las Casas.
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded at least 20 aftershocks of magnitude 4.0 or greater within about five hours after the main shake, and the president warned that a major aftershock as large as magnitude 7.2 could occur.
The USGS said the quake struck at 11:49 p.m. Thursday and its epicenter was 102 miles west of Tapachula in Chiapas. It had a depth of 43.3 miles.
The quake caused buildings to sway violently in Mexico’s capital more than 650 miles away. As beds banged against walls, people still wearing pajamas fled into the streets, gathering in frightened groups.
Chiapas Gov. Manuel Velasco said that three people were killed in San Cristobal, including two women who died when a house and a wall collapsed. He called on people living near the coast to leave their houses as a protective measure.
“There is damage to hospitals that have lost energy,” he said. “Homes, schools and hospitals have been damaged.”