UPDATE | 7.1 magnitude quake kills 119 as buildings crumble in Mexico
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico today, killing at least 119 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.
Dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed sickeningly.
The quake is the deadliest in Mexico since a 1985 quake on the same date killed thousands. It came less than two weeks after another powerful quake caused 90 deaths in the country's south.
Mancera said at least 30 died in the capital, and officials in Morelos state, just to the south, said 54 died there.
At least 26 others died in Puebla state, state disaster prevention chief Carlos Valdes said. Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said at least nine died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital.
Mancera said 50 to 60 people were rescued alive by citizens and emergency workers in Mexico City.
The federal interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said authorities had reports of people possibly still being trapped in collapsed buildings. He said search efforts were slow because of the fragility of rubble.
"It has to be done very carefully," he said. And "time is against us."
At one site, reporters saw onlookers cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble. Rescuers immediately called for silence so they could listen for others who might be trapped.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says it calculates the earthquake that struck central Mexico as magnitude 7.1
It says the epicenter was near the town of Raboso, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City.
Mexico’s seismological agency calculated its preliminary magnitude at 6.8 and said its center was east of the city in the state of Puebla.
Earlier in the day buildings across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake.