MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – A major earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck central Mexico today, killing at least 60 people in several states, toppling buildings in the heavily populated capital and forcing thousands of people into the streets in panic.
President Enrique Pena said 27 buildings had collapsed or partially collapsed in Mexico City, one of the world’s biggest cities. At least four people died in the city, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said.
“People are really scared right now,” said dentist Claudia Meneses who was in her clinic in Mexico City’s Lindavista neighborhood when the earthquake struck in the afternoon. “We’re going to go to a building that fell to see if we can help.”
Earthquakes of magnitude 7 or above are regarded as major and are capable of causing widespread heavy damage.
In the state of Morelos, just south of Mexico City, at least 42 people died, the state’s governor said. Authorities reported other deaths in neighboring Puebla and the State of Mexico.
Television images showed a multi-story building in the capital with a middle floor collapsed as sirens blared and first responders rushed to the scene. Other video showed the side of a government building shearing off and falling into the street as bystanders screamed.
It was the second powerful earthquake to hit Mexico this month. Another quake on Sept. 7 in southern Mexico killed at least 98 people.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.” The city and its surrounding area are home to about 20 million people.
Rescue workers and neighbors pulled at least one survivor from a collapsed building in the city’s busy Condesa neighborhood.
In Cuernavaca, a city in Morelos state south of Mexico City, there were unconfirmed reports on local radio of people trapped beneath collapsed buildings.
Mexican TV and social media showed cars crushed by debris. Many people fled into the streets, and electricity and phone lines were down in parts of the capital.
“We got out really fast, leaving everything as it was and just left,” said Rosaura Suarez, as she stood with a crowd on the street.
Mexican stocks and the peso currency dropped on news of the earthquake, and Mexico’s stock exchange suspended trading.
The quake hit 32 years to the day since a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Many Mexicans had participated in earthquake drills around the nation on Tuesday as is customary every Sept. 19.
The epicenter of Tuesday’s quake was located in the central state of Puebla, the U.S. Geological Survey said.