Mexico hit by one of strongest quakes ever, at least 32 die
Mexico City: One of the most powerful earthquakes ever to strike Mexico has hit off its southern Pacific coast, killing at least 32 people, toppling houses, government offices and businesses while sending panicked people into the streets more than 1,000 kilometres away.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake hit off Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude of 8.1, slightly stronger than the magnitude 8 quake of 1985 that killed thousands and devastated large parts of Mexico City.
Oaxaca state Gov Alejandro Murat told local news media that at least 23 people had died in his coastal state. Civil defence officials said at least seven died in Chiapas and two others in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
Hundreds of buildings collapsed or were damaged, 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 US 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 pm Thursday local time and its epicentre was 165 kilometres west of Tapachula in Chiapas. It had a depth of 69.7 kilometres.