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Strongest quake in century hits Mexico
September 9, 2017, 2:42 pm
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An earthquake of magnitude 8.1 struck off the southern coast of Mexico late on Thursday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, killing at least 61 people and triggering small tsunami waves but no major destruction. The quake was apparently stronger than a devastating 1985 tremor that flattened swathes of Mexico City and killed thousands, but this time damage to the city was limited.

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 labored through the night in badly affected areas to check for people trapped in collapsed buildings. Windows also shattered at Mexico City airport and power went out in several neighborhoods of the capital, affecting more than 1 million people.

The cornice of a hotel came down in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, a witness said. The tremor was felt as far away as neighbouring Guatemala.
The epicenter of the quake was in the Pacific, 54 miles southwest of the town of Pijijiapan in the poor southern state of Chiapas, 43 miles deep. Four people were killed in the state, Governor Manuel Velasco said.

Two children were killed in neighbouring Tabasco state, Governor Arturo Nunez said. The quake triggered waves as high as 2.3 ft in Mexico, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Mexican television showed images of the sea retreating about 50 meters, and authorities evacuated some coastal areas.
"The tsunami risk on the Chiapas coast does not represent a major risk, it's not very big, it's not a major worry," President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a call to TV network Televisa.

The president said more aftershocks were likely and that people should carefully check their homes and offices for structural damage and for gas leaks. "We are alert," he said. The USGS reported multiple aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4.3 to 5.7.

Classes were suspended in most of central and southern Mexico on Friday to allow authorities to review damage. 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.

People in Mexico City, one of the world's largest cities, ran out into the streets in pajamas and alarms sounded after the quake struck just before midnight, a Reuters witness said. Helicopters buzzed overhead a few minutes later, apparently looking for damage to buildings in the city, which is built on a spongy, drained lake bed.

In one central neighborhood, dozens of people stood outside after the quake, some wrapped in blankets against the cool night air. Children were crying.
Liliana Villa, 35, was in her apartment when the earthquake struck and she fled to the street in her pajamas. "It felt horrible, and I thought, 'this is going to fall'." State oil company Pemex said it was still checking for damage at its installations. Pena Nieto said operations at the Salina Cruz refinery in the same region as the epicenter were temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure.

"I had never been anywhere where the earth moved so much. At first I laughed, but when the lights went out I didn't know what to do," said Luis Carlos Briceno, an architect, 31, who was visiting Mexico City. "I nearly fell over."

Major earthquakes of the past 30 years

• August 8, 2017: A relatively shallow 6.3-magnitude earthquake rattles northwest China, followed by two smaller aftershocks. Twenty-four people killed.
• August 24, 2016: A quake with a magnitude of up to 6.2 hits villages in central Italy, killing nearly 300 people. The tremor was felt in Rome, 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the epicentre near Amatrice.
• April 16, 2016: A 7.8-magnitude quake strikes Ecuador, killing 673 people and levelling thousands of buildings up and down the coast.
• February, 2016: A 6.4 magnitude quake hit Taiwan's Tainan. More than 100 people are killed after a building collapses.
• October 26, 2015: A powerful 7.5 magnitude quake strikes Afghanistan's Hindu Kush region and is felt throughout much of South Asia.
• April 25, 2015: A 7.8 magnitude quake in Nepal kills almost 8,900 people and destroys about half a million homes. A massive aftershock with a magnitude of 7.3 follows in May, killing dozens more.
• August 11, 2012: Twin earthquakes with a magnitude 6.3 and 6.4 leave 306 dead and more than 3,000 injured near the Iranian city of Tabriz.
• March 11, 2011: Nearly 18,900 are killed when a tsunami triggered by a massive magnitude 9.0 undersea quake slams into the northeast coast of Japan, triggering a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant.
• October 23, 2011: An earthquake of 7.2 magnitude rocks eastern Turkey, leaving more than 600 dead and at least 4,150 injured.
• January 12, 2010: Magnitude 7.0 quake hits Haiti, leaving between 250,000 and 300,000 dead.
• April 14, 2010: A 6.9-magnitude quake hits Yushu county in northwest China's Qinghai province leaving 3,000 people dead and missing.
• May 12, 2008: A quake measuring 8.0 hits China's southwest province of Sichuan, leaving more than 87,000 people dead or missing.
• May 27, 2006: A powerful quake in Indonesia's Yogyakarta region kills 6,000 and leaves 1.5 million homeless.
• October 8, 2005: An earthquake of 7.6 magnitude kills more than 75,000 people, the vast majority of them in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and the Pakistani-administered zone of Kashmir state. Some 3.5 million are displaced.
• March 28, 2005: An earthquake on Indonesia's Nias island off Sumatra leaves 900 dead.
• December 26, 2004: A magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra triggers a tsunami that kills 220,000 in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
• December 26, 2003: A quake measuring 6.7 hits the Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 31,884 people and injuring 18,000.
• January 26, 2001: A massive 7.7 earthquake hits the western Indian state of Gujarat, killing 25,000 people and injuring 166,000.
• September 30, 1993: A 6.3-magnitude quake hits the western Indian state of Maharashtra, killing 7,601.
• October 20, 1991: A quake measuring 6.6 hits the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh state in India, killing 768.
• August 20, 1988: A magnitude 6.8 quake hits eastern Nepal, killing 721 people in Nepal and at least 277 in the neighbouring Indian state of Bihar.

Source: Gulf News

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