7.4 magnitude earthquake hits southern Mexico

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A 7.4-magnitude earthquake has rattled large swaths of southern and central Mexico, according to the country’s national seismological service.

The quake struck the southern state of Oaxaca at 10.29am local time (1429 BST) on Tuesday but was felt more than 400 miles away in the capital, Mexico City, where buildings shook and panicked residents fled on to the streets.

Mexican newspapers said there were no immediate reports of damage in the capital, where memories of a 2017 earthquake that felled buildings and killed more than 300 people are still fresh.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the city’s mayor, tweeted: “So far no major incidents [reported].”

The situation near the quake’s epicentre in Crucecita, Oaxaca, was not immediately clear.

“It started really slow ... and then very quickly it notched up very fast,” said Richard Hanson, an American who runs an NGO in Oaxaca’s state capital called Tejiendo Alianzas.

“Our fan was moving around a lot, you could hear the noise of the walls and the earth moving, things stared falling off the shelves in the kitchen and crashing and breaking on the ground.”

Outside Hanson said “people were running out of buildings, screaming and getting on the ground … Some people were just running to any open space.”

In a social media “message to the Mexican people” president Andrés Manuel López Obrador officials were struggling to make contact with people in Oaxaca to verify the situation there.

“So far no damage has been reported to us,” he said. “We don’t have communications with Oaxaca.”

The earthquake’s epicentre was just east of Huatulco, one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations, where beaches had only just reopened last week after closing because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reuters said Tuesday’s quake set off a tsunami warning for a radius of 1,000 km (621 miles) on the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
 
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