20 Sep 2017

More than 200 dead in 7.1 Mexico earthquake

7:02 pm on 20 September 2017

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake has hit Mexico, and the death toll continues to climb.

Rubble from a quake-hit building crushed a car in Mexico City.

Rubble from a quake-hit building crushed a car in Mexico City. Photo: AFP

Fires and gas leaks broke out in the capital, one of the world's biggest cities, after the earthquake struck on Tuesday afternoon (Wednesday morning NZT).

It is the second powerful earthquake in the country in two weeks, after an 8.1 quake hit the south of the country earlier this month, killing at least 98 people.

Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 44 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed in the latest earthquake. Several fires occurred, and the mayor said earlier that people were trapped in burning buildings

At least 216 people were killed, the nation's civil protection agency said, after revising the estimate down from 248.

The highest death toll was in Morelos state, just south of Mexico City, where 64 deaths were reported. In Mexico City, at least 36 people were killed. Twenty-nine deaths were reported in the state of Puebla.

Rescuers pulling a woman alive from the rubble of a Mexico City building.

A woman is pulled alive from the rubble of a Mexico City building. Photo: AFP

The 7.1 earthquake hit 8km southeast of Atencingo in Puebla at a depth of 51km, the US Geological Survey said. It was initially measured as 7.4 but later downgraded.

Local TV reports showed a multi-storey building in the capital with a middle floor collapsed. Other video showed the side of a government building sheering off and falling into the street as bystanders screamed.

The quake hit only hours after many people participated in earthquake drills around the nation on the anniversary of the devastating quake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985.

 Mexico City residents after the quake.

People in Mexico City fled into the street after the 7.1 magnitude quake. Photo: AFP

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.

Mr Peña Nieto was on a flight to Oaxaca, one of the hardest hit areas by the earlier quake, but said on Twitter that he was immediately returning to Mexico City.

- RNZ / Reuters

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