World

More than 200 dead after magnitude 7.1 quake strikes Mexico

September 21, 2017 03:30 AM

More than 200 people, including 21 schoolchildren, are dead after a magnitude 7.1 earthquakerocked central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, hitting on the 32nd anniversary of the biggest quake to strike the country's capital.

Yesterday's earthquake was centered about 75 miles southeast of Mexico City and caused extensive damage, leveling at least 44 buildings, including homes, schools and office buildings, according to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who did a flyover of the city Tuesday afternoon.

Emergency crews and volunteers are digging through rubble with their bare hands in search of trapped survivors after a powerful earthquake stuck central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, toppling dozens of buildings and killing at least 225 people

The magnitude 7.1 quake – the deadliest to hit the nation since 1985 – struck shortly after 1pm local time, causing violent, prolonged shaking, which flattened buildings and sent masonry tumbling onto streets, crushing cars and people in the capital, Mexico City, and surrounding areas.

As the sun rose on Wednesday, rescuers armed with cutting tools and sniffer dogs continued to scramble to reach survivors pinned inside the ruins of offices, schools and apartment blocks amid plumes of dust and wailing sirens. Power cuts left much of the capital in darkness. Many people had spent the night outdoors, fearful of aftershocks.

It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.

Along Avenida de los Insurgentes – one of the city’s main thoroughfares – thousands of people streamed out of buildings in panic as alarms blared.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone. Peña Nieto cut short a visit to the southern state of Oaxaca, which had been badly hit in the earlier quake.

The US president, Donald Trump, who had been criticised for a perceived tardy response to the earlier disaster, responded on Tuesday within minutes, tweeting: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Much of Mexico City is built on former lake bed and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.

Improved safety laws and better disaster preparation means that earthquakes since 1985 have caused less damage in the capital. But Tuesday’s quake struck without warning, despite an alert mechanism which normally sounds an alert beforehand.

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