A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.4 struck southern Mexico’s Pacific coast on Tuesday, killing at least five people and cutting off isolated villages, as well as causing damage to buildings hundreds of miles away in Mexico City.
The fatalities were near the quake’s epicenter in Oaxaca, a mountainous state known for its coffee, mescal and Spanish colonial architecture.
Rockfalls blocked the winding mountain roads between the state capital of Oaxaca city and the coast. Rescue workers have not reached all villages reported to have suffered damage, raising fears that more people may be hurt.
A Oaxaca state official said rescue workers were trying to get to the settlement of Santa Catarina Xanaguia, near the epicenter, where the quake brought down homes or parts of the mountainside, trapping people. People had sent messages for help by phone, the official added.
A clinic and old churches in hill villages near the epicenter were severely damaged, images on social media showed.
The dead included a worker from state oil company Pemex, who fell from a height. Pemex was forced to briefly shutter the country’s biggest oil refinery in Oaxaca.
A powerful earthquake hit the coast of southern Mexico on Tuesday, shaking buildings in Mexico City hundreds of miles away, sending people fleeing their homes into the streets, and triggering a tsunami warning, APA reports quoting Reuters.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey measured at magnitude 7.4. It was centered on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said there were no preliminary reports of damage but added that he was still awaiting reports from Oaxaca, a mountainous state that is home to coffee plantations, beach resorts, and Spanish colonial architecture.
Alberto Ibanez, a photographer in Oaxaca City, told Reuters the quake left a crack in an internal wall in his apartment and knocked books and pots off shelves.
“Everybody fled into the street, it was really strong,” Ibanez said.
Reuters witnesses in Mexico City saw no initial signs of injuries or damage. The capital’s public security ministry said a flyover showed “there are no fallen buildings.”
Quakes of magnitudes over 7 are major earthquakes capable of widespread, heavy damage. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck central Mexico in 2017 killed 355 people in the capital and the surrounding states.
Tuesday’s quake set off a tsunami warning for a radius of 1,000 km (621 miles) on the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.