Deadly Earthquake Off Southern Mexico Triggers Tsunami Warning

4 hours ago
Originally published on September 8, 2017 6:43 am

Updated at 6:00 a.m. ET

A powerful earthquake hit off Mexico's southern coast late Thursday night, toppling houses in Chiapas state. Dozens of aftershocks have also been felt. At least five people were reported killed.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 8.1-magnitute quake struck at 11:49 p.m. local time and its epicenter was 102 miles west of Tapachula in Chiapas — not far from Guatemala.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto says it was an 8.2 quake — making it the largest in Mexico in 100 years. He also said it was bigger than the one in 1985, when thousands were killed in four Mexican states.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System said hazardous tsunami waves were possible on the Pacific coasts of several Central American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras, within three hours.

Authorities in the state of Chiapas are assessing the damage.

The Associated Press reports:

" 'The house moved like chewing gum and the light and internet went out momentarily,' " said Rodrigo Soberanes, who lives near San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, a poor, largely indigenous state popular with tourists.

"Chiapas Gov. Manuel Velasco said that three people were killed in San Cristobal, including two women who died in San Cristobal when a house and a wall collapsed. He called on people living near the coast to leave their houses as a protective measure.

"There is damage to hospitals that have lost energy," he said. "Homes, schools and hospitals have been damaged."

"Civil Defense in Chiapas said on its Twitter account that its personnel were in the streets aiding people and warned residents to prepare for aftershocks.

"In neighboring Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales spoke on national television to call for calm while emergency crews checked for damage.

"We have reports of some damage and the death of one person, even though we still don't have details," Morales said. He said the unconfirmed death occurred in San Marcos state near the border with Mexico."

Tabasco Gov. Arturo Nunez told media outlets that two children had died in his state.

In Oaxaca, a hotel collapsed but no one was reported dead.

The earthquake was so strong that buildings in Mexico City, which is more than 600 miles away from where the quake hit, swayed violently.

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