Major 7.1 earthquake hits Mexico, more than 140 killed
A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake has killed at least 149 people in central Mexico, according to officials.
The tremor on Tuesday struck eight kilometres southeast of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla, some 120km from the capital, Mexico City, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Scores of buildings collapsed into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states.
“At the moment..149 [are] deceased,” the director of the government’s civil protection service, Luis Felipe Puente, tweeted late on Tuesday.
He said there were 49 deaths in Mexico City.
In Morelos state, directly south of the capital, at least 55 people were killed.
The state of Puebla, where the epicentre of the earthquake struck, reported at least 32 deaths.
At least 10 people died in Mexico state, which lies just to the west of Mexico City, and in Guerrero, one person died.
The capital’s international airport suspended operations and was checking facilities for any damage.
Clouds of dust rose from fallen pieces of facades in Mexico City, and local TV footage and social media purportedly showed some buildings with severe damage.
Center of Mexico City right now after 7.4 earthquake. Scary. Hope folks are ok. Video shot by a friend in DF pic.twitter.com/tlYtpEShcB
— David Prager (@dlprager) September 19, 2017
— BreakingNNow (@BreakingNNow) September 19, 2017
According to mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, 44 buildings collapsed in the capital alone
Rescue workers and residents dug through the rubble of collapsed buildings seeking survivors.
At one site in the Mexico City neighbourhood of Roma, rescue workers cheered as they brought a woman alive from what remained of a toppled building.
Local media broadcast video of whitecap waves churning the city’s normally placid canals of Xochimilco as boats bobbled up and down.
Al Jazeera journalist Ali Rae, who was in Mexico City when the earthquake struck, said: “The building I was in began to sway back and forth. As the waves got stronger, the shelves began to empty and a glass cabinet fell nearby.
“My friend and I were in a bit of shock. My legs felt like jelly as we left the building to join others outside. While it was a bit of a scare for us – we were completely fine compared to other parts of the city hit a lot worse.”
Al Jazeera’s Ampraro Rodiguez, reporting from Mexico City, said that while this wasn’t the strongest earthquake Mexico has experienced in the last month, “what makes it different is that the epicentre was quite close to the capital”.
Hours after the quake, rescue workers were still clawing through the wreckage of a primary school that partly collapsed in Mexico City, looking for any children who might be trapped. Some relatives said they had received Whatsapp messages from two girls inside.
Earlier this month, a powerful 8.1 quake hit southern Mexico, killing at least 98 people.
The worst earthquake in the history of Mexico occurred on September 19, 1985, killing nearly 10,000 people.
Mexico City was among the places that were seriously affected.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies