Powerful 7.4 magnitude quake hits Mexico, no word on damage yet

Katie Ramirez
June 24, 2020

In a radio interview, Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat said at least one person was killed and several more were injured when a building collapsed in the town of Crucecitas.

A powerful natural disaster struck Mexico's southern Oaxaca region on Tuesday, killing at least five people and shaking buildings hundreds of miles away.

Thousands of people reportedly fled their houses into the streets after city alarms alerted residents minutes before the tremors hit.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake had a magnitude of 7.4 and was centered along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca state.

The dead included a worker from state oil company Pemex in Oaxaca, who fell from a height at the country's biggest oil refinery. Videos posted online from the affected area showed the ocean water receding from the shoreline. He ran outside with relatives, but they had to stop in the middle of the street as the pavement buckled and rocked.

The USGS initially reported the quake as having a magnitude of 7.7, but downgraded it soon after. Significant earthquakes have been recorded in the southern coast of Mexico throughout history, including a magnitude 8.0 natural disaster that struck in 1985 and caused around 9,500 fatalities, injuries to 30,000 people and left 100,000 people homeless.

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The fatalities were near the quake's epicenter in Oaxaca, a mountainous state known for its coffee, mescal and Spanish colonial architecture.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said power was knocked out in some areas. Buildings in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, about 70 miles from the epicenter of Tuesday's quake, were reduced to rubble.

Helicopters flew over downtown Mexico City and police patrols sounded their sirens. It was very shallow, only 26 km (16 miles) below the earth's surface, which would have amplified the shaking.

Six hours after the quake, 447 aftershocks had been recorded across the region, the strongest at 4.6 magnitude.

"Strategic installations didn't suffer any damage, that is to say, ports, airports, refineries, hydroelectric plants, everything is in a good condition", said Lopez Obrador after speaking to David Leon, the national coordinator of Mexico's Civil Protection force.

The quake took many people by surprise in the capital, including some working from home due to virus lockdown measures.

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