7.5 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Mexico, Kills at Least 4


A strong earthquake shook southern Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least four people, causing buildings to shake hundreds of miles away and prompting residents to flee homes and offices to seek safety on the streets under open sky.

The earthquake’s magnitude was 7.5, according to Mexico’s national seismological service, and it was centered in the Pacific Ocean, about 14 miles off the coast, south of Crucecita, a beach town in the southern state of Oaxaca that has been popular with tourists. It struck at 10:29 a.m. local time.

The U.S. Geological Survey, however, estimated the magnitude at 7.4; it is not unusual for preliminary measurements to vary.

Another quake, estimated by the U.S.G.S. at 4.9 magnitude, struck the same region Monday night. By early afternoon on Tuesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said, there had been 147 aftershocks to the larger quake, and officials warned that more were expected.

Four people have been confirmed killed in the earthquake, according to the governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat, and David León, Mexico’s national coordinator of civil protection.

Information on the toll trickled in throughout the day, and local news reports showed rubble from some damaged buildings in Oaxaca.

“Fortunately there was no major damage,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a Twitter video posted early in the afternoon, one of a series he posted, relaying updates from Mr. León and others. A phone pressed to his ear, the president said, “collapses, some broken glass, signage fell, walls, but nothing serious.”

Mr. López Obrador urged everyone to remain attentive to further seismic warnings and to stay calm. “I hope and I wish with all my soul that there will be no more damaging aftershocks,” he said.

The agency’s ocean buoys recorded small seismic waves after the quake — too small to have much noticeable affect.

Powerful offshore earthquakes can trigger devastating tsunamis like the ones that hit Fukushima, Japan in 2011, and Aceh, the Indonesian province, in 2004. But it is difficult to predict which quakes will cause such destructive waves.

The 8.2 earthquake in 2017, the most powerful quake in Mexico in a century, occurred near the Middle America Trench, a zone in the eastern Pacific where one slab of the earth’s crust, called the Cocos Plate, is sliding under another, the North American, in a process called subduction.

Subduction releases vast amounts of energy and, if the slip occurs under the ocean, can move a lot of water suddenly. Subduction zones, which ring the Pacific Ocean, cause the world’s largest earthquakes and most devastating tsunamis.

Elda Cantú and Natalie Kitroeff contributed reporting from Mexico City.



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