At least five people were reportedly killed when a powerful earthquake hit southern Mexico, causing serious damage to buildings in the country’s capital on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that inflicted major damage to Mexico City.
An earthquake of 7.4 magnitude hit southern Mexico on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said.
The quake hit five miles (eight km) southeast of Atencingo in the state of Puebla at a depth of 32 miles (51 km), USGS said.
Local media in Puebla reported that five people had died. Puebla governor Tony Galil tweeted that several buildings in the city of Cholula had been damaged, including churches whose steeples collapsed.
Several buildings in Mexico City collapsed reportedly trapping people inside, cars were crushed and swathes of the capital were left without electricity.
Video posted online showed one building in the Reforma neighbourhood collapsing in a cloud of dust as onlookers screamed and ran for safety.
Another video showed slabs of concrete peeling from the facade of the labor ministry and plunging onto the street below.
Along Insurgentes Avenue – one of the city’s main thoroughfares – thousands of people streamed out of buildings in panic as alarms blared, and traffic stopped around the Angel of Independence monument.
Traffic came to a standstill, as masses of workers blocked streets.
Mexico City’s international airport suspended operations and was checking facilities for any damage.
The quake shook the capital on the anniversary of the devastating 1985 earthquake which cost thousands of lives and destroyed many buildings in the capital.
Much of Mexico City is built on former lake bed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.
Just two hours and 15 minutes before Tuesday’s quake, buildings across the city held practice evacuations drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake.
Improved safety laws and better disaster preparation means that earthquakes since 1985 have caused less damage in the capital. But Tuesday’s quake strike without warning, despite an alert mechanism which normally sounds an alert beforehand.
And damage can be devastating in the poorer rural areas in the south of the country. Earlier this month a magnitude 8.2 earthquake killed at least 98 people and left an estimated 2.5 million people in need of assistance.
President Enrique Peña Nieto was on a flight to Oaxaca, one of the hardest hit areas by that quake, and said via his Twitter account that he was immediately returning to attend to the quake in Mexico City.
Within minutes of the quake, Donald Trump tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”
The US president had come under criticism for waiting a week before he commented publicly on the previous earthquake – Mexico’s worst in a century.