At least 2 dead after 7.6 magnitude quake strikes Mexico

AFP

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

One person was killed in the Pacific port of Manzanillo when a department store roof collapsed on them, the government said. Authorities also reported damage to several hospitals in the western state of Michoacan near the epicenter, which was in a sparsely populated part of Mexico. One person was injured by falling glass at one of the hospitals, the government said.

The magnitude 7.6 quake hit shortly after 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) near the western coast and close to the Michoacan border with the state of Colima - where Manzanillo is located, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake was relatively shallow, at only 15 km deep, which would have amplified its impact.

The U.S. 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 destructive quakes battered the country in 1985 and 2017.

"It seems like a curse," Isa Montes, a 34-year-old graphic designer in the city's central Roma neighborhood, said of the quake's timing as helicopters flew overhead, surveying the city.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of the country's most prestigious seats of higher learning, said there was no scientific explanation for three major quakes on the same day and attributed it to pure coincidence.

But others could not quite believe it.

"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."

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

Many Mexicans reacted to the latest quake by posting an array of memes online venting their amazement.

Before first announcing the death in Manzanillo, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had said there was material damage 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 grasp 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 on the same day.

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