Mexico rocked by “biggest earthquake in its history”

An earthquake of magnitude 8.1 struck off the southern coast of Mexico late on Thursday, according to the US Geological Survey.

A number of buildings suffered severe damage in parts of southern Mexico. Some of the worst initial reports came from Juchitan in Oaxaca state, where sections of the town hall, a hotel, a bar and other buildings were reduced to rubble.

Rescue workers laboured through the night in badly-affected areas to check for people trapped in collapsed buildings.

Magnitude 8 earthquake rocks southern Mexico and is felt as far away as Mexico City, the USGS says, issuing a tsunami warning— AFP news agency (@AFP) 8 septembre 2017

President Enrique Pena Nieto told reporters the earthquake is the biggest in Mexico’s history.

Was the capital affected?

Windows were shattered at Mexico City airport. Power went out in several neighbourhoods of the capital, affecting more than one million people.

The quake was apparently stronger than a devastating 1985 tremor that flattened swathes of the capital and killed thousands.

However, this time damage to the city was limited.

Earthquake off the coast of Chapas Mexico felt in Mexico City 8.0. via elbigdata— Gilbert (gilbertmacias) 8 septembre 2017

Was anyone killed?

Yes. At least six people. Four people were killed in the southern state of Chiapas, according to Governor Manuel Velasco.

Two children were killed in neighbouring Tabasco state says Governor Arturo Nunez.

What about the tsunami warning?

Small tsunami waves were triggered.

The quake triggered waves as high as 0.7 metres, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Mexican television showed images of the sea retreating about 50 metres. Some coastal areas have been evacuated.

“The tsunami risk on the Chiapas coast does not represent a major risk, it is not very big, it is not a major worry,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said on local television.

There was no tsunami threat for American Samoa and Hawaii, according to the US Tsunami Warning System.

The national disaster agency of the Philippines put the country’s eastern seaboard on alert, but no evacuation was ordered.

JUST IN: Tsunami confirmed in Mexico; largest wave is 0.7 metres (2.3 feet) – Pacific Tsunami Warning Center— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) 8 septembre 2017

And what about aftershocks?

The president says more aftershocks are likely and people should carefully check their homes and offices for structural damage and for gas leaks.

The USGS reported multiple aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 4.3 to 5.7.

What about industrial infrastructure?

State oil company Pemex says it is still checking for damage at its installations.

President Enrique Pena Nieto says operations at the Salina Cruz refinery in the same region as the epicentre were temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure.

What they are saying

“I had never been anywhere where the earth moved so much. At first, I laughed, but when the lights went out I did not know what to do,” – Architect Luis Carlos Briceno told reporters.

“It felt horrible, and I thought, ‘this is going to kill me’” – female resident of Mexico City.