Strongest earthquake to hit Mexico, kills 61

Web Desk

The strongest earthquake to hit Mexico has left at least 61 people dead, toppling houses, damaging hospitals and government offices, and sparking mass evacuations.

The quake struck at 11:49 p.m. Thursday (12:49 a.m. EDT; 4:49 a.m. GMT Friday). Its epicentre was 102 miles west of Tapachula in Chiapas, with a depth of 43.3 miles.

The worst-hit city was Juchitan, on the narrow waist of Oaxaca known as the Isthmus, where 36 quake victims died.

Part of a bridge on a highway being built to the site of Mexico City’s planned new international airport collapsed due to the earthquake, local media reported.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday evening in a televised address that 61 people were killed – 45 in Oaxaca state, 12 in Chiapas and 4 in Tabasco – and he declared three days of national mourning.

The US Geological Survey recorded at least 20 aftershocks of magnitude 4.0 or greater within about five hours after the main shake, and the president warned that a major aftershock as large as magnitude 7.2 could occur.

The epicentre was in a seismic hotspot in the Pacific where one tectonic plate dives under another. These subduction zones are responsible for producing some of the biggest quakes in history, including the 2011 Fukushima disaster and the 2004 Sumatra quake that spawned a deadly tsunami.

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