7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 44 in Mexico

2017-09-19 22:53
A woman is assisted after a real quake rattled Mexico City while an earthquake drill was being held in the capital. (AFP)

A woman is assisted after a real quake rattled Mexico City while an earthquake drill was being held in the capital. (AFP)

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Mexico City -  A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 44 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust and thousands fled into the streets in panic.

Del Mazo said a quarry worker was killed when the quake unleashed a rock slide, and another died when hit by a falling lamppost.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 123km southeast of Mexico City.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there are reports of people trapped in collapsed buildings in Mexico City, though the number is not clear.

He also told the Televisa network that there appear to be 20 or more buildings that collapsed or suffered serious damage.

Meanwhile, Mexico City's international airport said it has suspended operations due to the quake that shook the central part of the country.

The airport said in a tweet that airport personnel are checking the structures for damage. It's not immediately clear how many flights have been affected.

Numerous other buildings collapsed or suffered serious damage across central Mexico in Tuesday's quake.

Mexican television stations are broadcasting images of collapsed buildings in heavily populated parts of the city following Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

Televisa broadcast images of a plume of smoke rising from one large structure.

One of the collapsed buildings is a large parking garage alongside a hospital.

Puebla governor Tony Gali says buildings have been damaged in his state in central Mexico.

Gali said on his official Twitter account that "we will continue reviewing" damages and urged people to follow emergency procedures.

"What we have reports of is material damage... we have no reports of deaths so far," tweeted Puebla Interior Secretary Diodoro Carrasco.

He said the towers of some churches have fallen in the city of Cholula, which is famous for its many churches.

On Mexico City's main boulevard, thousands of people streamed out of buildings into the streets in a panic, filling the plaza around the Independence Monument with a mass of people.

Traffic came to a standstill, as masses of workers blocked streets.

Clouds of dust rose from fallen pieces of facades. Office workers hugged each other to calm themselves.

In the city's Roma neighbourhood, which was struck hard by the 85 quake, small piles of stucco and brick fallen from building facades littered the streets.

Two men calmed a woman, blood trickling from a small wound on her knee, seated on a stool in the street, telling her to breathe deeply.

At a nearby market, a worker in a hard hat walked around the outside of the building, warning people not to smoke as a smell of cooking gas filled the air.

Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, had been in a taxi a few blocks away when the quake struck.

She said she saw glass bursting out of the windows of some buildings.

Mexico's seismological agency calculated its preliminary magnitude at 6.8 and said its center was east of the city in the state of Puebla.

Earlier in the day buildings across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake.

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