Big­gest quake in a cen­tury rocks South

Bangkok Post - - WORLD -

MEX­ICO CITY: A ma­jor earth­quake off Mex­ico’s south­ern coast killed at least 15 peo­ple, with the pres­i­dent say­ing yes­ter­day it was the big­gest in a cen­tury to hit the coun­try. Houses top­pled and the quake pro­duced tsunami waves and sent peo­ple run­ning into the streets in panic.

The US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey re­ported the earth­quake’s mag­ni­tude as 8.1, but Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto says it was 8.2, 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.

“It was a large-scale earth­quake,” Mr Pena said. “It had a big­ger mag­ni­tude than the one Mex­i­cans knew in 1985.”

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. Mr Pena also said that se­ri­ous dam­age had been caused and that 1 mil­lion cus­tomers ini­tially had been with­out power fol­low­ing the quake, but that elec­tric­ity had been re­stored to 800,000 of them.

The USGS said the quake struck at 11.49pm on Thurs­day, lo­cal time (11.49am yes­ter­daym Thai time, and its epi­cen­ter was 165km west of Ta­pachula in Chi­a­pas, not far from Gu­atemala. It had a depth of 69.7km.

The quake was so strong that it caused build­ings to sway vi­o­lently in Mex­ico’s cap­i­tal more than 1,000km away. Res­i­dents fled build­ings, many in their pa­ja­mas, and gath­ered in fright­ened groups in the street.

“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 Govenor Manuel Ve­lasco said that three peo­ple were killed in San Cris­to­bal, in­clud­ing two women who died 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.”

Tabasco Gov­er­nor Ar­turo Nunez said two chil­dren had died in his 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 says waves of one me­ter above the tide level were mea­sured off Salina Cruz, Mex­ico. Smaller tsunami waves were ob­served on the coast or mea­sured by ocean gauges in sev­eral other places. The cen­tre’s fore­cast said Ecuador, El Sal­vador and Gu­atemala could see waves of a me­ter or less. No threat was posed to Hawaii and the western and South Pacific.

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 neigh­bour­ing 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,” Mr Mo­rales said. He said the un­con­firmed death oc­curred in San Mar­cos state near the bor­der with Mex­ico.

Lucy Jones, a seis­mol­o­gist in Cal­i­for­nia who works with the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, said such a strong quake was to be ex­pected.

“Off the west coast of Mex­ico is what’s called the sub­duc­tion zone, the Pacific Plate is mov­ing un­der the Mex­i­can Penin­sula,” she said.

“It’s a very flat fault, so it’s a place that has big earth­quakes rel­a­tively of­ten be­cause of that.”

EPA

A build­ing in Oax­aca is left dam­aged af­ter the strong­est earth­quake in a cen­tury hit Mex­ico late on Thurs­day night.

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