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A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake jolted Mexico City, killing more than 200

September 20,2017 09:09

A powerful earthquake jolted Mexico City on Tuesday, causing buildings to collapse and sway on what was coincidentally the anniversary of a 1985 quake that did major damage to the capital. By Wednesday morning, at least 217 people had died, according ...and more »

People in Mexico City comfort one another after a deadly on Tuesday.AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Raboso, Mexico, on Tuesday.
Powerful shocks were felt in Mexico City, damaging buildings and causing residents to panic.
More than 200 people have died.
A powerful earthquake jolted Mexico City on Tuesday, causing buildings to collapse and sway on what was coincidentally the anniversary of a 1985 quake that did major damage to the capital.
By Wednesday morning, at least 217 people had died, according to national co-ordinator for civil protection Luis Felipe Puente. This includes at least 20 children, who were found dead when the Enrique Rebsamen school, in Mexico City's southern Coapa district, collapsed.
Over 3,400 soldiers were being deployed to areas affected by the earthquake, the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense said.
Panicked office workers streamed into the streets as the quake toppled buildings and sent plumes of dust into the air. Early photos and videos appear to show severe damage, but the full extent is not yet clear.
Mexico's seismological agency said the epicenter was between the states of Puebla and Morelos, about 75 miles south of Mexico City.
A building in Mexico City was damaged by the earthquake on Tuesday.REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Mexico City's mayor, Miguel Angel Mancera, said there were reports of people trapped in collapsed buildings after the quake, though the number was unclear. Around 44 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, Mancera said, according to Reuters.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was magnitude 7.1, and it estimated fatalities in the hundreds and economic losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The quake was at a known tectonic fault, but not at the edges of two moving plates like many strong earthquakes, a US Geological Survey seismologist, Paul Earle, told The Associated Press.
There have been 19 earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or larger within 155 miles of Tuesday's quake in the past century, Earle said, and Earth usually has about 15 to 20 earthquakes this size or larger each year.
The scene on the ground
On Mexico City's main boulevard, thousands of people fled office buildings into the streets in a panic, filling the plaza around the Independence Monument.
Traffic came to a standstill as masses of workers blocked streets. Clouds of dust rose from fallen pieces of facades. Office workers hugged each other to calm themselves.
Early calculations have found that more than 30 million people would have felt moderate shaking from Tuesday's quake.
People fill Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City after evacuating their offices on Tuesday.AP Photo/Anita Baca
Pictures fell from walls and objects were shaken off flat surfaces. Some people dove for cover under desks.
Mexican media broadcast images of several collapsed buildings in heavily populated parts of the city. Several outlets also reported a massive gas explosion at a factory causing a fire. All flights to and from Mexico City's airport were being diverted or put on hold.
In the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, which was struck hard by the 1985 quake, piles of stucco and brick from building facades littered the streets. At least one large parking structure collapsed. Two men calmed a woman seated on a stool in the street, blood trickling from a small wound on her knee.
Edith Lopez, 25, a market stall vendor, said she was in a taxi a few blocks away when the quake struck. She said she saw glass bursting out of the windows of some buildings. She was anxiously trying to locate her children, whom she had left in the care of her mother, who is disabled.
Officials respond
Earlier in the day, buildings across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, which was a magnitude 8.1 and killed at least 5,000 people, with some estimates as high as 40,000.
An 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico earlier this month, killing 98 people.
Much of Mexico City is built on a former lakebed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.
The head of Mexico's civil protection agency, Luis Felipe Puente, asked residents not return to their homes until they are deemed safe.
Mexico's president, Enrique Pena Nieto, flew back to Mexico City and activated an emergency plan to survey the damage.
US President Donald Trump tweeted a message of support for the residents of Mexico City:
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
Early photos and videos showed significant damage:

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