Tsunami warning issued as powerful earthquake shakes southern, central Mexico

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A powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico on Tuesday, triggering a tsunami warning along Central America’s Pacific coast and as far south as Ecuador.

The epicenter was near Crucecita, in the southeastern state of Oaxaca, but the shock wave was felt as far away as Mexico City, some 700 kilometers (430 miles) distant, where it sent frightened residents rushing into the streets.

The US Geological Survey reported that the quake struck with a magnitude of 7.4, at a depth of 23 kilometers. After initially publishing a reading of 7.1, the Mexican Seismological Service revised its figure to 7.5.

The US Pacific Tsunami warning center said hazardous waves as high as three meters could strike anywhere within 1,000 kilometers of the quake’s epicenter, affecting the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central and South America.

The highest waves, of one to three meters, are expected along Mexico’s southern coast near where the quake hit hardest, the center said.

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Waves of up to one meter could strike the coast of Ecuador, and smaller waves under a half-meter could be seen in Central American countries as well as Hawaii and Peru.

“At the moment we have no preliminary reports of any damage. Several institutions are continuing to evaluate their priority infrastructure,” David Leon, the national coordinator of Mexico’s Civil Protection force, told Milenio TV station.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat wrote on Twitter that the state was activating safety protocols “to monitor the streets and keep the population protected.”

Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum also activated response protocols, although she said there had been “no major incidents” reported.
The earthquake was felt in several parts of the capital of 8.8 million people which in 2017 was hit by a 7.1 magnitude quake that left 360 people dead throughout the country.

That same year, 96 people died after an 8.1 magnitude quake struck the south of the country, with Oaxaca the worst affected state.

The quake has hit at a time when Mexico is already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

It has suffered more than 22,500 COVID-19 deaths -- the second most in Latin America -- and 185,000 cases.