Strong earthquake strikes off Mexico’s Pacific coast, no casualties

April 12th, 2012 - 7:48 pm ICT by BNO News  

LAZARO CARDENAS, MEXICO (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Mexico on late Wednesday afternoon, causing tall buildings to sway as far away as Mexico City, seismologists and witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake at 5:55 p.m. local time (2255 GMT) was centered about 91 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of Lázaro Cárdenas, a port city in the southern part of Michoacán state. It struck about 16.5 kilometers (10.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the Mexican Seismological Service (SSN).

The earthquake was felt across a large region, including in Mexico City, some 445 kilometers (273 miles) northeast of the epicenter, where people ran out of buildings. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that some 15,000 people near the epicenter may have felt strong shaking, while some 21 million others may have felt weak to moderate shaking.

“The earthquake was felt across central Mexico and strongly in Michoacán state where the epicenter was,” the Mexican Seismological Service said in a report. The agency said Wednesday’s earthquake was the result of contact between the Cocos Plate and the North American plate, which interact in Mexico along the Pacific coast between the states of Jalisco and Chiapas.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said the city’s main services, including subways, hospitals, and the airport, were functioning normally after the earthquake. “The city is without major damage. All services are running without problems,” he said on his official Twitter account. Officials closer to the epicenter also said there were no reports of serious damage or casualties.

Wednesday’s earthquake followed a powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake which struck southwestern Mexico late last month, killing at least two people and injuring 11 others. The Mexican Seismological Service said Wednesday’s earthquake was unrelated to the earthquake last month, which was also felt in Mexico City.

Mexico sits on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin which is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

On September 20, 1985, one of the most devastating earthquakes struck the coastal area of Michoacan, although most of the damage was seen in Mexico City. Initial government reports indicated that from 6,000 to 7,000 people died, although further investigations revealed that approximately 10,000 people died.

The 8.1-magnitude earthquake completely or partially destroyed several important buildings such as the General Hospital of Mexico, the Televicentro building, which is now operated by Televisa, one of the country’s most important TV networks, as well as several residential buildings.

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