At least 149 people died in the magnitude-7.1 earthquake, officials said. Most deaths were reported in Puebla, Morelos and Mexico states, and Mexico City, the capital.
Video showed rescue workers in hard hats and civilians in a Mexico City neighborhood digging through two story-tall piles of rubble. Some carried away buckets full of debris. Volunteers called out the names of those possibly trapped under collapsed buildings. Windows buckled and shattered, falling several stories to the ground.
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President Enrique Peña Nieto said 27 buildings collapsed in the capital, which is about 75 miles from the epicenter, CNN affiliate Foro TV reported.
Hours before the quake hit, many people took part in drills and commemorative events on the anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Residents realized Tuesday’s earthquake wasn’t a drill when rooms trembled.
Preliminary reports put the epicenter 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 34.1 miles (55 km) south-southwest of the city of Puebla, in Puebla state, according to the US Geological Survey.
The earthquake struck at a depth of about 33 miles (51 km).
“Anything below 70 kilometers is considered a shallow quake,” CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said. “That’s important, because shallow earthquakes often cause the most damage, compared to the ones that are deeper, regardless of the strength. But this also was a relatively strong earthquake.”
Here are the latest developments:
• Peña Nieto told Mexico citizens, “We are facing a new national emergency.” The military was activated to help with assistance efforts. Rescue efforts would continue through the night, the President said.
• Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted “all public and private schools in Mexico City are canceled until further notice.” He said schools in the states of Puebla and Guerrero also are closed.
The airport in Mexico City was closed for a time but reopened by evening. There was no damage reported to its runways.
• Local and state officials said the highest number of deaths occurred in Morelos, where at least 55 people were killed.
• The government said 3.8 million customers in central Mexico had their electricity service interrupted.
• Peña Nieto tweeted that he has ordered the evacuation of hospitals that have suffered damage. He also ordered the transfer of patients to other medical units.