Mexico hit by major earthquake

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hits a number of states in Mexico but there are no reports of casualties despite minor damage to buildings and property

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hits a number of states in Mexico but there are no reports of casualties despite minor damage to buildings and property

SAO PAULO, Brazil – A major earthquake struck central and western Mexico on Friday, with reports of panic and minor damage as the country began its Easter vacation weekend.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicenter for the magnitude 7.2 earthquake, which hit at 9:27 a.m. local time (2:27 p.m. UTC), was located some 36 kilometers to the northwest of Tecpán de Galeana in Guerrero state, at a depth of 24 km. Earlier reports of the time of the quake were clarified later on Friday.

The quake was felt strongly in the capital, Mexico City, located around 265 km from the epicenter, and damage was reported to buildings in the central Doctores and Tlatelolco neighborhoods, including a building belonging to the Bank of Mexico, El Universal news site reported.

“It was long, around one-and-half minutes,” said an Anadolu Agency (AA) photographer in Mexico City. “The earthquake was strong.”

Power in the southern districts of the capital remains out due to dislodged cables, AA correspondent says, but strategic buildings and the country's main power, oil and nuclear installations have been unaffected.

Police are surveying the capital and reports say damage in most other places was limited to exterior walls and broken windows.

Some 30 aftershocks have been felt around the country, but there were no reports of human casualties.

Minor damage to buildings, vehicles, sidewalks and roads was reported in Guerrero state. Pictures published on social media sites show a wall that had toppled and crushed a car in the city of Chilpancingo.

- Buildings surveyed for damage

An earthquake siren was sounded around a minute before the main quake hit in major cities, witnesses told the Anadolu Agency, allowing people to seek shelter and evacuate high-rise buildings.

Local media broadcast pictures of panicked people leaving buildings and gathering on the streets shortly after the main tremor but the country has now largely returned to normal.  Easter celebrations and religious processions have continued across the country.

The state of Guerrero, where the epicenter was recorded, is home to the famous coastal resort city of Acapulco.

Acapulco municipal president Luis Walton Aburto took to Twitter to say there had been no reports of damage in the city, despite its relative proximity to the epicenter, but that buildings were being checked.

Mexico City was already less crowded than usual as many people had left to go on vacation, although Good Friday church services saw some congregations fleeing churches, including the city's main cathedral. 

Tectonic fault lines run along Mexico's Pacific coastline and earthquakes and tremors are common in the region.

“The initial location, depth, and mechanism of the April 18 earthquake are broadly consistent with slip on or near the plate boundary interface between the sub ducting Cocos oceanic sea plate and the North America plate,” the USGS said in a statement.

A magnitude-7.4 quake also hit the Guerrero and neighboring Oaxaca states on March 20, 2012, when two people were killed and over 30,000 houses were damaged.

The largest tremor in recent years was witnessed in 1985, when a magnitude-8.1 earthquake rocked the country, including Mexico City, leaving at least 6,000 people dead.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency