MEXICO CITY — A powerful earthquake centered near the southern Mexico resort of Huatulco killed at least five people, swayed buildings in Mexico City and sent thousands fleeing into the streets.
Mexico President Andrés Manuel Lpez Obrador said one person was killed and another injured in a building collapse in Huatulco, Oaxaca. Otherwise he said reports were of minor damage from the magnitude 7.4 quake, including broken windows and collapsed walls. Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat said
a second person was killed
in an apparent house collapse in the tiny mountain village of San Juan Ozolotepec, and said a third died in circumstances he did not explain.
Federal civil defense authorities reported two more deaths: a worker at the state-run oil company, Pemex, fell to his death from a refinery structure, and a man died in the Oaxaca village of San Agustin Amatengo when a wall fell on him.
Pemex also said the quake caused a fire at its refinery in the Pacific coast city of Salina Cruz, relatively near the epicenter. It said one worker was injured and the flames were quickly extinguished. Churches, bridges and highways also suffered damage during the quake.
Lpez Obrador said there had been more than 140 aftershocks, most of them small.
Seismic alarms sounded midmorning with enough warning for residents to exit buildings. Power was knocked out to some areas.
Helicopters flew over downtown Mexico City and police patrols sounded their sirens.
Groups of people still milled around in close proximity on streets and sidewalks in some neighborhoods of the capital about an hour after the quake. Many were not wearing masks despite past appeals from municipal officials for them to do so as a way to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
Inside a Mexico City military barracks converted to COVID-19 hospital, medical staff suited in protective equipment tried to calm anxious patients. Unable to evacuate isolation areas, patients huddled under a large beam in the women's ward while a nurse tried to calm one having a panic attack.
Teresa Jurez could only wish for it to pass quickly from her hospital bed where she lay connected to oxygen. Diabetic and with high blood pressure, Jurez said she thought about her five children. "It's horrible, you're here and you don't know what to do," she said.
The U.S. Geologic Survey said the quake hit at 10:29 a.m. along Mexico's southern Pacific coast at a depth of 16 miles (26 km).
It was felt in Guatemala and throughout south and central Mexico.
In Huatulco, a laid-back beach destination known for surfing and small
protected coves, the earthquake knocked goods off shelves and some rubble from buildings.