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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strong quake shakes Mexico; no deaths reported

March 21, 2012

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— A strong 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit southern Mexico on Tuesday, damaging some 800 homes near the epicenter and swaying tall buildings and spreading fear and panic hundreds of miles away in the capital of Mexico City.

One of the strongest to shake Mexico since the deadly 1985 temblor that killed thousands in Mexico City, Tuesday’s earthquake hit hardest in border area of southern Oaxaca and Guerrero states. In Guerrero, officials confirmed that some 800 homes had been damaged, with another 60 having collapsed.

Hours after the shaking at noon local time, there were still no reports of death or serious injury, even after a less powerful, magnitude-5.1 aftershock was felt in the capital and several other aftershocks near the epicenter in a mountainous rural region.

“It was very strong, very substantial,” said Campos Benitez, hospital director in Ometepec, about 15 miles from the epicenter.

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre, who is from Ometepec, was headed there to survey the damage and ordered emergency crews and civil protection to the area to help with the damage. The state did not say how many were displaced.

In Mexico City, frightened workers and residents poured into the streets of the capital. Telephone service was down in the city and throughout the area where the quake was felt and some neighborhoods were without power, according to Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who set up a hotline for people to report damage.

A pedestrian bridge collapsed on an empty transit bus.

About 40 passengers were stranded for a short time on the Mexico City airport air train but later released. The airport closed for a time, but officials said there was no runway damage and they resumed operations.

Samantha Rodriguez, a 37-year old environmental consultant, was evacuated from the 11th floor on the Angel Tower office building.

“I thought it was going to pass rapidly, but the walls began to thunder and we decided to get out,” she said.

Mexico City, built on a lake bed, was badly damaged in 1985 when an 8.1 earthquake killed at least 10,000 people. In past years, Guerrero has suffered several severe earthquakes, including a 7.9 in 1957, which killed an estimated 68 people, and a 7.4 in 1995, which left three dead.

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