United States

Hundreds Dead After 7.1M Quake Hits Mexico, Knocks Down Buildings

The quake comes less than two weeks after a major 8.1-magnitude earthquake killed about 100 people across southern Mexico

What to Know

  • 7.1 magnitude quake hits about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City Tuesday afternoon.
  • Tuesday's quake comes 32 years to the day an 8.0 quake killed thousands in the capital city.
  • Of the 217 reported dead, 22 were children found in a partially collapsed elementary and middle school.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 217 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south, and it occurred as Mexicans commemorated the anniversary of a 1985 quake that killed thousands.

Dozens of buildings collapsed into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings collapsed at 44 places in the capital alone.

Telemundo 39 reporter Norma Garcia was in Mexico City Tuesday interviewing a woman about the 1985 earthquake when a 7.1 magnitude temblor rocked the capital city.

The official Twitter feed of Mexico's Civil Defense agency head Luis Felipe Puente said at least 117 had died in Mexico City, and officials in Morelos, just to the south, said 55 had died there.

At least 39 others died in Puebla state, according to Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for the state's Interior Department.

Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said at least 12 had died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake centered about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City rattled the capital 32 years to the day after a massive 8.0 magnitude quake killed thousands.

The quake caused buildings to sway in Mexico City and sent panicked office workers streaming into the streets, but the full extent of the damage was not yet clear.

The federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City, freeing up emergency funds. President Enrique Pena Nieto said he had ordered all hospitals to open their doors to the injured.

[NATL] Photos: Mexico Hit by Powerful Quake for 2nd Time in 2 Weeks

The U.S. Geological Survey calculated its magnitude at 7.1 and said it was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City.

"People need to expect to be feeling more earthquakes," prominent American seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones said of possible aftershocks in an interview on MSNBC.

Puebla Gov. Tony Gali tweeted that there had been damaged buildings in the city of Cholula including collapsed church steeples.

In Mexico City, thousands of people fled office buildings and hugged to calm each other along the central Reforma Avenue as alarms blared, and traffic stopped around the Angel of Independence monument.

After learning of the quake, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement: "The thoughts and prayers of Texans are with the people of Mexico following another devastating earthquake. Mexico has been challenged by several natural disasters over the last few weeks, and our hearts are heavy for those lost and impacted by these tragedies. The State of Texas will continue to offer any support to aid Mexico in their time of need.”

Earlier in the day workplaces across the city held readiness drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, a magnitude 8.1 shake, which killed 9,500 people and devastated large parts of Mexico City.

Use the map to zoom into specific areas affected by Tuesday's 7.1 magnitude earthquake near Mexico City. Clicking on the various colors selects the area and shows the population affected. Use the navigation icon to open a legend.

In the Roma neighborhood, which was hit hard by the 1985 quake, piles of stucco and brick fallen 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 form a small wound on her knee.

At a nearby market, a worker in a hardhat walked around the outside warning people not to smoke as a smell of gas filled the air.

Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, 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 disabled mother.

Tuesday's powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake was felt well beyond Mexico City. Melida Ailshire was about to board a flight in Morelia, Mexico, about 200 miles away from the capital, when she says the quake struck.

Pictures fell from office building walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over. Some people dove for cover under desks. Local media broadcast video of whitecap waves churning the city's normally placid canals of Xochimilco as boats bobbed up and down.

Mexico City's international airport suspended operations and was checking facilities for any damage.

Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.

The magnitude 8.1 quake that hit Sept. 7 of Mexico's southern coast was also felt strongly in the capital.

A North Texas lawmaker who was in the middle of the near fight on the House floor after calling immigration officers on protesters is speaking out about the incident.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us