Mexico, including Mexico City, rocked by magnitude-8.1 offshore earthquake

Residents of Mexico City wait outside as buildings sway from earthquake
(Image credit: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

A massive earthquake struck off the southern coast of Mexico on Thursday night, shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City, the capital. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake was likely a magnitude-8.1 temblor, with the epicenter 54 miles southwest of Pijijiapan at a depth of 43 miles. Pijijiapan is about 470 miles southeast of Mexico City, but the earthquake caused buildings to sway in the capital, knocked out power to parts of the city, and prompted people to run out into the streets out of fear that their buildings would collapse. "I had never been anywhere where the earth moved so much," Luis Carlos Briceno, 31, told Reuters. "At first I laughed, but when the lights went out I didn't know what to do. I nearly fell over."

Mexican authorities called it the strongest earthquake to hit the country since a devastating temblor in 1985. The USGS predicted that "high casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread," especially given that in the region most affected, most people live in adobe houses. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and U.S. Tsunami Warning System warned of possible hazardous tsunamis along the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Central America, with the threat to Guam and Hawaii still being evaluated. The Atlantic coast of Mexico is bracing for Hurricane Katia.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.