Powerful earthquake hits Mexico on fateful anniversary, killing at least 2 people

MEXICO CITY, Sept 19 (Reuters) – A 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit western Mexico on Monday on the anniversary of two devastating tremors, killing at least two people, damaging buildings, cutting electricity and forcing residents of Mexico City to rush outside to safety.

Two people died in the peaceful port of Manzanillo, authorities said, one crushed by the facade of a department store while another was found dead in a shopping mall. Videos on social media showed the mall’s roof collapsed on the top floor, a gym, as people screamed for help.

Authorities also reported damage to several hospitals in the western state of Michoacan, near the epicenter, which was in a sparsely populated part of Mexico. One person was injured by falling glass at one of the hospitals, the government said.

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The quake occurred shortly after 1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) near the west coast of Mexico and near the border between Michoacan and the state of Colima – where the main port of Manzanillo is located, US Geological said. Survey (USGS).

It was relatively shallow, just 15 km (9 miles) deep, which would have amplified its impact.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas, saying waves up to 1 to 3 meters (3 to 9 feet) above tide level were possible.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said no major damage was reported in the capital after the quake, which rocked Mexico on the same day as destructive quakes that hit the country in 1985 and 2017 .

“It looks like a curse,” said Isa Montes, a 34-year-old graphic designer from the central Roma district, of the timing of the quake as helicopters hovered over the city.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of the country’s most prestigious higher education seats, said there was no scientific explanation for three major earthquakes on the same day and the attributed to pure coincidence.

But others couldn’t quite believe it.

“It’s that date. There’s something about the 19th,” said Ernesto Lanzetta, a business owner in the city’s Cuauhtemoc borough. “The 19th is a day to fear.”

Thousands of people were killed in the September 19, 1985 earthquake and more than 350 died in the September 19, 2017 earthquake.

Many Mexicans reacted to the latest earthquake by posting a series of memes online expressing their anxiety and finding humor in the natural disaster. Read more

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also found material damage near the epicenter. Images posted on social media showed severely damaged buildings.

Mexican authorities said the seismic alert sounded nearly two minutes before the quake, giving residents time to evacuate.

Still, some people in the capital struggled to believe it was a real earthquake, as the government had already sounded the alarm earlier in the day as part of a drill. drive commemorating past earthquakes on the same day.

SHUTDOWN

In Coalcoman, Michoacan, not far from the epicenter, footage showed shingles toppled on homes and building walls cracked by the force of the quake. In a store, merchandise was strewn across the floor.

Power was cut in parts of Mexico City’s trendy Roma neighborhood, about 400 km (250 miles) from the epicentre. The national electric utility said the outages affected 1.2 million users.

Roma residents stood in the streets cradling pets, while tourists visiting a local market with a guide were visibly confused and upset. Traffic lights stopped working and people clutched their phones, texting or waiting for calls to go through.

Clara Ferri, owner of an Italian bookstore in Rome, said she told a customer to get out as soon as she heard the sound of windows, her senses tuned in to the sounds of incipient earthquakes after 16 years spent there.

“It was like the dentist’s drill for me,” she said.

The rumble grew in intensity, and as Ferri gathered with neighbors at an intersection, she looked up to see the eight-story building that houses her shop swaying from side to side.

When he returned, the shelves had toppled over like dominoes, sending more than 1,000 books heaping onto the floor.

Officials cordoned off the sidewalk, which was littered with masonry that appeared to have fallen from the building. Residents walked out with pets and suitcases, preparing to spend the night elsewhere, and a woman carefully escorted her 89-year-old uncle in his blue and white striped pajamas.

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Additional reporting by Isabel Woodford, Stefanie Eschenbacher, Anthony Esposito, Raul Cortes, Diego Ore and Mexico City Newsroom; Written by Dave Graham; Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Sandra Maler, Cynthia Osterman and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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