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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, October 20, 2018

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Massive 7.2 magnitude quake rocks Mexico, affecting millions

Killed over 300 people

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico - A massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast on Friday, leaving millions without power and evoking memories of the September 19 earthquake that killed over 300 people in the country.

The United States Geological Survey said that the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Friday struck at 5:39 p.m. local time, shaking buildings about 225 miles away in Mexico City. 

According to U.S.G.S., the epicentre of the quake was near the town of Pinotepa Nacional, in the Pacific state of Oaxaca.

The U.S.G.S. said that the epicentre was about 90 miles from the Pacific coast surfer resort Puerto Escondido in the southern state of Oaxaca.

The quake struck at a depth of 15.3 miles.

Local reports noted that Friday’s tremors left tall buildings swaying for more than two minutes and resulted in a magnitude 5.8 aftershock 57 minutes after the initial quake.

People in Mexico City and southern Oaxaca state, where the quake's epicentre was located, flooded the streets as the ground seethed. 

Two hours after the earthquake, Eduardo Sánchez, a presidential spokesman told the Televisa network that there were no reports of deaths or injuries.

Even Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s national coordinator of civil protection, wrote on Twitter that there were no immediate reports of major damage. 

Millions of homes and businesses were without power in the capital and south after the quake.

However, hours later, reports noted that deaths were reported when a military helicopter crashed after surveying the aftermath.

Officials said that at least two people died when the helicopter carrying Mexico’s interior minister and the governor of Oaxaca crashed while trying to land after a tour of damage from the earthquake. 

The senior officials survived the crash.

Further, officials said that at least 50 homes in the southern state of Oaxaca and Mexico City suffered damage.

The national seismology service said that Friday’s quake also led to 225 aftershocks and caused widespread panic.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said in a statement that in Mexico City, the seismic alarm sounded 72 seconds before tremors were felt, giving residents time to flee to the streets.

The heaviest impact in the southern region was felt in the Oaxacan town of Jamiltepec, where houses, a church and government buildings were damaged according to a review conducted by the state’s civil protection agency.

The Oaxaca state governor said that about 100,000 people in the state had lost power.

However, the National oil firm Pemex, which houses its biggest refinery 240 miles (386 km) from the epicentre, confirmed that its installations were in order.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s disaster prevention agency said in a statement that the Popocatepetl volcano, south of the capital, sent a kilometre-high column of ash into the sky.

The quake on Friday came merely five months after the devastating September 2017 earthquakes, that caused widespread damage and loss of life.

The epicentre of Friday’s earthquake was between those of a magnitude 8.2 quake on September 8 and the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 19. 

According to geological experts, all the three quakes occurred in the same general area, a subduction zone, where one piece of the earth’s crust - the Cocos Plate, is slowly sliding under another, the North American.

The U.S.G.S released a brief initial analysis of Friday’s quake, which said that it occurred “on or near” the boundary between the two plates, and about 55 miles north of the Middle America Trench, where the Cocos begins its slide beneath the North America plate.

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