At least one dead from powerful Mexico earthquake

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A powerful earthquake struck western Mexico on Monday on the anniversary of two devastating temblors, killing at least one person, damaging buildings, knocking out power and sending residents of Mexico City scrambling on to streets for safety.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a video address a person had died in the nearby Pacific port of Manzanillo after a wall collapsed in a store. Authorities also reported damage to two hospitals in the western state of Michoacan near the epicenter.

Shortly after 1 p.m. (2 p.m. EST), the magnitude 7.6 quake hit near the coast on the border region of Michoacan and the neighboring state of Colima, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The quake was relatively shallow, at only 9 miles deep, which would have amplified the shaking.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for parts of Mexico’s coast, saying waves reaching 1 to 3 meters (3 to 9 feet) above the tide level were possible.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said there were no immediate reports of major damage in the capital after the tremors, which rumbled through Mexico on the same day as major quakes battered the country in 1985 and 2017.

“It’s this date, there’s something about the 19th,” said Ernesto Lanzetta, a business owner in the Cuauhtemoc borough of the city. “The 19th is a day to be feared.”

A police officer takes a picture of a car damaged by rocks that fell off a church during an earthquake, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
A police officer takes a picture of a car damaged by rocks that fell off a church during an earthquake, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
REUTERS/Fernando Carranza

In an earlier message before announcing the death in Manzanillo, Lopez Obrador had said there were no initial reports of fatalities but that there was material damage in areas near the epicenter. Images posted on social media showed buildings badly damaged.

Mexican authorities said the seismic alert had sounded nearly two minutes before the quake struck, giving residents time to evacuate their homes.

Still, some people in the capital struggled to believe it was a real quake as the government had already sounded the alarm earlier in the day as a practice exercise commemorating the past earthquakes that ravaged Mexico on that same September day.

A map depicting where the earthquake hit.
The magnitude 7.6 quake hit near the coast on the border region of Michoacan and the neighboring state of Colima.

In Coalcoman, Michoacan – near the epicenter of the earthquake – pictures seen by Reuters showed shingles knocked off homes and building walls cracked by the force of the quake. In one store, merchandise was scattered across the floor.

Power was knocked out in parts of the central Roma area of the capital, some 400 km (250 miles) from the epicenter.

Residents cradling pets stood on the street, while tourists visiting a local market with a local guide were visibly confused and upset. Traffic lights stopped working, and people clutched their phones, sending text messages or waiting for calls to get through.

Thousands of people were killed in the Sept. 19, 1985 earthquake and more than 350 died in the Sept. 19, 2017 quake.

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