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8.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Off Coast of Mexico, Tsunami Warnings Issued

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A magnitude 8.1 earthquake has been reported off the coast of Mexico, with residents told to evacuate and a tsunami warning issued for the region and neighbouring countries.

The quake struck 200km south-west of the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez just after midnight on Thursday local time.

The Pacific tsunami warning centre said hazardous waves could be possible “within the next three hours” for the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, El Savador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador.

In an updated warning, they predicted waves over 3m for parts of the Mexican coast, and waves between 0.3 and 1 meters for the Cook Islands, Ecuador, French Polynesia, Guatemala and Kiribati.

Waves below 0.3 metres were forecast for other countries in the Pacific, including Colombia, Hawaii, Peru and Panama.

They estimated that initial tsunami waves would reach the Mexican cities of Salina Cruz, Puerto Madero, Acapulco and Lazaro Cardenas by 1am local time.

The tsunami threat to Hawaii was still under evaluation, said the warning centre.

The New Zealand ministry of civil defence and emergency management said they were assessing the potential of the tsunami to reach New Zealand. They estimated that waves would not reach for at least 12 hours.

In Mexico people flooded on to the streets amid signs that buildings and infrastructure were swaying.

TheGuardian


CNN reports:

A strong earthquake hit off the coast of southern Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, the USGS Geological Survey (USGS) reported Friday.

The quake, which was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City, had a preliminary magnitude of 8.1 and depth of 69.7 kilomteres (43 miles), according to the USGS. It was a particularly shallow quake, according to Jana Pursely, a geophysicist at the USGS.

It struck off the Pacific Coast 74 miles (120 kilometers) at 11:49 p.m. ET southwest of Tres Picos, Mexico, which is 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City. It was close to both the Mexican states of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, and Oaxaca in the Middle America trench.

It is a “prime location” for earthquakes, according to CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

“The shaking along the coast of Chiapas at this point is estimated to be very strong to severe,” Pursely told CNN. “I would expect damage along the coast of Chiapas.”

Video on social media showed significant tremors in various parts of the country and significant damage.

One video showed Mexico’s famous Angel of Independence statue shaking.

Mexico City earthquake @j_berlingerCNN pic.twitter.com/W0hNEqoO1m

Pursely said these types of shallow earthquakes have the potential to be very dangerous.

The USGS has reported four aftershocks with tremors measuring above 5.0 in magnitude and a fifth at 4.9.

Paulaina Gomez-Wulschner said she heard an earthquake alarm go off on the radio as she was driving in Mexico City.

“This was a very, very strong earthquake, one of the strongest I’ve felt, and I was here in 1985 when that earthquake collapsed Mexico City,” she told CNN.

When it struck, she parked her car and joined others stood in the middle of the street to avoid falling objects.

“It was very scary,” she said.

Gomez-Wulschner said she could hear sirens, ambulances and helicopters in the aftermath, but did not see any immediate damage near her.

On his verified twitter account, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted, “Civil protection protocols are activated, including the National Emergency Committee.”

A tsunami threat is being evaluated by the Tsunami Warning System. The Tsunami Warning Center advised the public that tsunami waves could hit within three hours off the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and even Ecuador.

CNN attempted to contact two seaside hotels in the Mexican state of Chiapas but the lines appeared to be down.

A receptionist at the Intercontinental in Mexico City said he only felt light shaking, however parts of the city are without power, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said in an interview on Foro TV.

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