A magnitude 7.5 earthquake has struck large swaths of southern and central Mexico, killing at least one person, according to the country’s president.
Mexico’s national seismological service said the earthquake shook the southern state of Oaxaca at 10:29 am local time (1429 BST) on Tuesday, but was felt more than 400 miles away in the capital, Mexico City, where buildings they shook and residents panicked fled to the streets. .
“It really moved,” said Francisco Aceves, owner of an import-export company in Mexico City that was on the 22nd floor of an office block when the earthquake struck.
Mexican newspapers said there were no immediate reports of damage in the capital, where memories of a 2017 earthquake that toppled buildings and killed more than 300 people are still fresh.
“No major damage has been reported so far, only the collapse of some walls and building fronts,” Claudia Sheinbaum, the city’s mayor, said in a video from the Mexico City emergency response center.
The situation near the epicenter of the earthquake in Crucecita, Oaxaca, was not immediately clear.
But in a “message to the Mexican people” message on social media, Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that a person had been confirmed dead after a landslide along the country’s Pacific coast. Another person was injured.
López Obrador, or Amlo as he is widely known, said that no “strategic infrastructure” such as ports, airports, refineries and hydroelectric dams had been damaged.
“Everything is in good shape,” Amlo said, urging Mexicans to stay alert but calm.
Richard Hanson, a 44-year-old American who runs an NGO in the state capital of Oaxaca called Tejiendo Alianzas, said: “It started very slow … and then very fast, it accelerated very fast.”
“Our fan was moving around a lot, you could hear the noise from the walls and the movement of the earth, things seemed to fall off the kitchen shelves and crash and break on the floor.”
Outside, Hanson said, “People were running out of buildings, screaming and falling to the ground … Some people just ran into any open space.”
Photographs of the state capital showed rubble-strewn streets and the partially collapsed facade of a historic building.
The epicenter of the earthquake was just east of Huatulco, one of the main tourist destinations in Mexico, where the beaches had just reopened last week after closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reuters said Tuesday’s earthquake triggered a 1,000-km (621-mile) radius tsunami alert off the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Oaxaca state governor Alejandro Murat told Milenio Televisión that the earthquake caused landslides, cut off road connections between some cities, and damaged some buildings, including a hospital that had been treating Covid-19 patients. Murat said the sick were transferred to another location. But no major building in the state capital appeared to have been severely damaged.