• Strong quake shakes Mexico, causing panic


    MEXICO CITY: A strong earthquake shook southern and central Mexico on Friday (Saturday in Manila), causing panic less than six months after two devastating quakes that killed hundreds of people.

    No buildings collapsed, according to early reports. But two towns near the epicenter, in the southern state of Oaxaca, reported damage and state authorities said they had opened emergency shelters.

    Later in the day, a helicopter en route to the scene carrying the country’s interior minister and the governor of Oaxaca crash landed, killing two people on the ground even as the passengers survived.

    Both Mexico’s National Seismological Service and the US Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 7.2.

    NOT AGAIN A patient is evacuated from a hospital during a powerful earthquake in Mexico City on Friday (Thursday in Manila). AFP PHOTO

    It triggered Mexico City’s alarm system and caused buildings to sway in the capital. It was also felt in the states of Guerrero, Puebla and Michoacan.

    Panicked residents flooded into the streets, fearing a repeat of the two quakes last September, which caused buildings to collapse and killed a total of 465 people.

    “To be honest, we’re all pretty upset. We start crying whenever the [earthquake]alarm goes off,” 38-year-old publicist Kevin Valladolid told Agence France-Presse through tears after evacuating from his building in La Roma, in central Mexico City.

    “We’re stressed out, we have flashbacks. So we run out into the street. It’s all we can do.”

    On the north side of the city, Julia Hernandez said she felt like she was “in a boat” as the ground swayed beneath her feet.

    “Is it ever going to stop?” she said.

    Standing in the middle of the street, her eyes glued to her fifth-floor apartment, Graciela Escalante, 72, could hardly speak.

    “It was terribly strong. We barely managed to get down the stairs. It was the longest staircase in the world,” she told Agence France-Presse.

    “We thought everything was going to collapse again.”

    Officials in affected states said they were inspecting buildings damaged by last year’s quakes, which are especially vulnerable to collapse.

    “Obviously people are afraid,” said the emergency response chief for the city of Puebla, Gustavo Ariza.

    President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted that the National Emergency Committee had been activated because of the magnitude of the quake.

    Emergency management authorities said there were no reports of major damage so far.

    In Oaxaca, where the epicenter was located, authorities reported some structural damage to buildings in two towns, Pinotepa Nacional and Santiago Jamiltepec.

    “Shelters have already been opened for those affected,” the state government said on Twitter.

    Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera reported “very minor” damage in the capital.



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