At least 58 people died in a historically massive earthquake that struck the southern coast of Mexico early Friday, toppling hotels and houses and prompting tsunami waves and power outages.
The United States Geological Survey said that a magnitude 8.1 quake hit about 73 miles off Tres Picos, Mexico, along Mexico’s southern coast.
Its epicenter was 102 miles west of Tapachula in southern Chiapas state and had a depth of about 21 miles. The quake was so powerful, it sent people fleeing from buildings 650 miles away in Mexico City.
President Enrique Pena Nieto said the earthquake is the biggest the country has seen in a century. He said that 62 aftershocks followed the quake and it’s possible one as strong as 7.2 could hit in the next 24 hours.
Chiapas’ Gov. Manuel Velasco told Milenio TV that at least three people have been killed in the region and 10 died in Oazaca, close to the quake’s epicenter. He said the quake damaged hospitals and schools. Two children also died in Tabasco state.
One of them was killed when a wall collapsed, and the other was a baby who died in a children’s hospital that lost electricity, cutting off the infant’s ventilator.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center early Friday confirmed tsunami waves in Mexico, with the largest wave so far measuring 2.3 feet.
Smaller tsunami waves were observed on the coast or measured by ocean gauges in several other places. The center’s forecast said Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala could see waves of a meter or less.
Civil protection officials in Mexico were checking for damage in Chiapas, but the quake was so powerful that frightened residents in Mexico City fled apartment buildings, often in their pajamas, and gathered in groups in the street.
Around midnight buildings swayed strongly for more than minute, loosening light fixtures from ceilings. Helicopters crisscrossed the sky above Mexico City with spotlights.