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At least 16 people died late Thursday night in Mexico after a powerful 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country, the biggest quake in more than 100 years, according to Mexico’s president.
The quake struck off Mexico’s far southern Pacific coast just before midnight Thursday night, about 100 kilometers from the town of Tonala, according to Mexican authorities.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday the earthquake toppled houses in southern Chiapas state and that the earthquake was bigger than a 1985 earthquake in the country that killed thousands.
“It was a major earthquake in scale and magnitude, the strongest in the past 100 years,” he said.
The earthquake triggered a 1.0-meter-high tsunami, according to The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. There were no immediate claims of destruction caused by the tsunami.
Rodrigo Soberanes, who lives near San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, told the Associated Press that his “house moved like chewing gum.”
Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco said in a televised interview that “Homes, schools and hospitals have been affected” by earthquake damage.
The quake was felt as far away as Mexico City and Guatemala City. Residents of the Mexican capital fled into the streets, many in their pajamas, for fear buildings would collapse.
“I had never been anywhere where the earth moved so much. At first I laughed, but when the lights went out I didn’t know what to do,” said Luis Carlos Briceno, an architect, who was visiting Mexico City. “I nearly fell over.”
The U.S. Tsunami Warning System initially said the earthquake was a potential tsunami threat to several Central American countries, but have since rescinded that warning.