Major quake hits Mexico on anniversary of deadly tremors

Major quake hits Mexico on anniversary of deadly tremors

People wait on the streets of Mexico City after a powerful earthquake.
People wait on the streets of Mexico City after a powerful earthquake.

MEXICO CITY - A powerful earthquake struck western Mexico on Monday, leaving at least one person dead and causing panic hundreds of kilometers away in Mexico City on the anniversary of two devastating tremors.

The national seismological agency reported the quake was of magnitude 7.4 with a depth of 15 kilometers (nine miles), while the United States Geological Survey estimated the magnitude at 7.6.

"I thought I would have a heart attack!" said Gabriela Ramirez, 58, one of the many residents across the city who rushed out into the streets.

The epicenter was located near the Pacific coast, around 400 kilometers west of the capital and 59 kilometers (37 miles) south of Coalcoman in the state of Michoacan, according to seismologists.

One person was killed by falling debris in Manzanillo in the western state of Colima, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Twitter.

There was not believed to be any serious damage in Mexico City, he said.

It was the third major earthquake on record to hit Mexico on the day of September 19.

Mexico City's early warning earthquake alarms rang out less than an hour after the capital held emergency drills as part of events to mark the disasters of 1985 and 2017.

"It felt terrible. We went down as soon as we felt it, when the alarm sounded," Karina Suarez, 37, said after evacuating the building where she lives in the capital.

- 'Ring of fire' -

In Mexico City, residents reported minor damage and broken glass in some buildings on social media.

There was no risk of a tsunami, the country's civil protection agency said.

Mexico sits in the world's most seismically and volcanically active zone, known as the Ring of Fire, where the Pacific plate meets surrounding tectonic plates.

On September 19, 1985 an 8.1 magnitude quake in Mexico City killed more than 10,000 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings.

On the anniversary of that earthquake in 2017, a 7.1 quake left around 370 people dead, mainly in the capital.

Mexico City is built in a natural basin filled with the sediment of a former lake, making it particularly vulnerable to earthquakes.

The capital, which together with surrounding urban areas is home to more than 20 million people, has an early warning alarm system using seismic monitors that aims to give residents enough time to evacuate buildings.

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