7.4 quake shakes Mexico, 800 homes damaged
A strong 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit southern Mexico on Tuesday, damaging some 800 homes near the epicenter and swaying tall buildings.
The quake spread fear and panic hundreds of miles away in the capital of Mexico City.
One of the strongest to shake Mexico since the deadly 1985 temblor that killed thousands in Mexico City, Tuesday’s earthquake hit hardest in border area of southern Oaxaca and Guerrero states. In Guerrero, officials confirmed that some 800 homes had been damaged, with another 60 having collapsed.
Hours after the shaking at noon local time (18:02 GMT), there were still no reports of death or serious injury, even after a less powerful, magnitude-5.1 aftershock was felt in the capital and several other aftershocks near the epicenter in a mountainous rural region.
Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre, who is from Ometepec, was headed there to survey the damage and ordered emergency crews and civil protection to the area to help with the damage. The state did not say how many were displaced.
In Mexico City, frightened workers and residents poured into the streets of the capital. A pedestrian bridge collapsed on an empty transit bus.
Mexico City, built on a lakebed, was badly damaged in 1985 when a quake killed at least 10,000 people. That quake was originally measured at 8.1, but is now put by the US Geological Survey at 8.0. In past years, Guerrero has suffered several severe earthquakes, including a 7.9 in 1957 which killed an estimated 68 people, and a 7.4 in 1995 which left three dead.
Tuesday’s quake was the strongest shaking felt in the capital since a magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck also in Guerrero in December. Officials said at least three people died in Guerrero, but there were no reports of widespread damage.
US President Barack Obama’s oldest daughter, Malia, was reported and safe while on vacation with a school group in Oaxaca.
The US Geological Survey set the preliminary magnitude of the first quake at 7.4 and said the epicenter was 11 miles underground. The survey set the aftershock at 5.1.
Seismologists and civil protection officials said there didn’t appear to be heavy damage or casualties because of where and how the earthquake hit.
There were reports of damaged buildings but none collapsed on the Oaxaca side of the border, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar said. Authorities believed that the absence of tall buildings in the area is one reason.
Another factor may be the high frequency of earthquakes in the region, said USGS seismologist Susan Hoover.
There have been 15 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or stronger since 1973 within 310 miles (500 kilometers) of Tuesday’s quake. Weaker buildings collapse with each quake, leaving a cadre of stronger ones that can withstand the shaking.
Mexico City’s airport was closed for a short time but there was no damage to runways and operations were returning to normal.