Strongest earthquake in Mexico for 100 years prompts tsunami warning

At least 27 people have died in 8.2 magnitude tremor

Mexico City aftershocks
People wait for the aftershocks from this morning's massive earthquake to pass, in downtown Mexico City
(Image credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

The most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in a century has killed at least at least 27 people – and prompted a tsunami alert.

The 8.2 magnitude quake struck off the country’s Pacific coast shortly before 6am UK time today, 54 miles southwest of the coastal town Pijijiapan.

Twenty people are reported dead in Oaxaca state, another four in Chiapas, and two children died in Tabasco state - one a baby who died when power was cut to a respirator, reports the BBC. One person also died in neighbouring Guatemala.

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More than 12 aftershocks have been detected since the quake hit, ranging from 4.3 to 5.7 magnitude. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto warned there might be more - with the death toll expected to rise.

A tsunami alert was issued, amid fears that waves up to 10ft high may hit Mexico’s coast. Lower tsunamis may also batter the nearby nations El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica, experts warn.

Initial reports suggested the tremor was 8.4 magnitude, which would have made it the most powerful ever to hit Mexico, but it is now confirmed at 8.2.

Some 50 million Mexicans are thought to have felt the initial shock, which struck at a depth of 43 miles. In Mexico City, 450 miles from the epicentre, earthquake alarms were sounded, reports the The New York Times, sending “people running into the streets, many of them in nightclothes, looking up nervously at shaking trees and swaying power lines”.

The tremor shook the city’s famous Angel of Independence monument. The 148ft tower is seen swaying wildly in videos posted online, but remained upright. An earthquake in 1957 caused the angel on top to fall to the square below.

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In 1985, a tremor of magnitude 8.0 hit the Mexican capital, resulting in thousands of deaths, recalls the BBC.

This week’s earthquake comes as Mexico braces for the impact of Hurricane Katia on its Atlantic coast. The storm is one of three raging in the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma has cut a swathe of destruction across Caribbean islands and is heading for the US state of Florida, with Hurricane Jose in its wake.

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