Mexico City: Mexico’s most powerful earthquake in a century, with a magnitude of 8.2, struck the country’s southern coast minutes before midnight.
The quake sent thousands of people panicking into the streets in the middle of the night as hundreds of buildings crumbled all around.
The furious shaking created a second national emergency for Mexican agencies already bracing for Hurricane Katia on the other side of the country.
The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of the capital and 74 miles (120 kilometers) off the coast.
President Enrique Peña Nieto said the tremor, felt by almost 50 million people across the country, was the strongest earthquake Mexico has experienced in 100 years. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed an estimated 9,500 people in and around Mexico City.
President Nieto in a televised address said that 61 people were killed, 45 in Oaxaca state, 12 in Chiapas and 4 in Tabasco. He also declared three days of national mourning.
The worst-hit city, Juchitan, on the narrow waist of Oaxaca, has at least 36 quake victims.
The quake struck at 11:49 p.m. Thursday (12:49 a.m. EDT; 4:49 a.m. GMT Friday). Its epicenter was 102 miles (165 kilometers) west of Tapachula in Chiapas, with a depth of 43.3 miles (69.7 kilometers), the USGS said. Dozens of strong aftershocks rattled the region in the following hours.
The earthquake hit late night when many people were asleep. The states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, home to about 9 million people, are located closest to the earthquake’s epicenter. They are two of the most impoverished areas in Mexico, and were likely hit the hardest.
According to a report in Indian Express, Mexico’s Interior Department reported that 428 homes were destroyed and 1,700 were damaged in various cities and towns in Chiapas.
El sismo de hoy .. el más fuerte de los últimos 30 años. La alarma sísmica !! Al 100% 👏🏼👏🏼… todos bien !??? pic.twitter.com/ZXrxvcjogg
— Hussein Forzán ® (@husseinforzan) September 8, 2017
— CruzRojaGT (@CRGuatemalteca) September 8, 2017
— ¬¬ (@moy_etito) September 8, 2017
ÚLTIMA HORA | VIDEO – Las primeras imágenes del poderoso terremoto de 8.0 de magnitud que ha sacudido a México y Centroamérica pic.twitter.com/QNAPgy0AdM
— Alberto Rodríguez (@AlbertoRT51) September 8, 2017