Major Earthquake In Mexico Leaves At Least 15 Dead

MEXICO CITY (AP) — 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 (1,000 kilometers) 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.

National civil defense chief Luis Felipe Puente told the Televisa network 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 (12:49 a.m. EDT ; 0449 GMT Friday) and its epicenter was 102 miles (165 kilometers) west of Tapachula in Chiapas. It had a depth of 43.3 miles (69.7 kilometers).

The quake caused buildings to sway violently in Mexico’s capital more than 650 miles (1,000 kilometers) 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.”

Tabasco Gov. Arturo Nunez said two children had died in his Gulf coast state. One of them was killed when a wall collapsed, and the other was a baby who died in a children’s hospital that lost electricity, cutting off the infant’s ventilator.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of one meter (3.3 feet) above the tide level were measured off Salina Cruz, Mexico. Smaller tsunami waves were observed on the coast or measured by ocean gauges in several other places. The center’s forecast said Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala could see waves of a meter or less. No threat was posed to Hawaii and the western and South Pacific.

Mexican authorities said they were evacuating some residents of coastal Tonala and Puerto Madero because of the warning.

The quake hit as Mexican emergency agencies were bracing for another crisis on the other side of the country. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Katia was likely to strike the Gulf coast in the state of Veracruz early Saturday as a Category 2 storm that could bring life-threatening floods.

In neighboring Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales spoke on national television to call for calm while emergency crews checked for damage.

“We have reports of some damage and the death of one person, even though we still don’t have details,” Morales said. He said the unconfirmed death occurred in San Marcos state near the border with Mexico.

The quake occurred in a very seismically active region near the point of collision between three tectonic plates, the Cocos, the Caribbean and the North American.

Mexico’s National Seismological Service said the area has seen at least six other quakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater since 1900 — though three of those all occurred within a nerve-wracking nine-month span in 1902-1903.

COMPLETE QUAKE COVERAGE: CBS Earthquake Resource Center

This article will be updated as information warrants, and follow KPIX 5 on Twitter at @CBSSF or KCBS Radio on Twitter at @KCBSNews for updates on breaking news anytime.

LIVE QUAKE MAP: Track Real-Time Hot Spots
BAY AREA FAULTS: Interactive Map Of Local Faults

Strong earthquakes with an epicenter off the coast can trigger tsunamis, depending on the size and type of the fault movement. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center tracks earthquake data for the West Coast.
WEST COAST TSUNAMI TRACKING:
status low Major Earthquake In Mexico Leaves At Least 15 Dead
Tsunami Alerts & Maps

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Comments

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
Got Our Weather App?
LIVE: Monday through Friday from 3am – 3pm PST

Watch & Listen LIVE