A major earthquake off the southern coast of Mexico has killed at least 32 people, according to authorities, with the president saying it was the biggest hit the country in a century.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported the magnitude of the earthquake late on Thursday as 8.1, but President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Friday it was 8.2, making it the largest in Mexico in 100 years.
He also said it was bigger than the one in 1985 when thousands were killed in four Mexican states.
Its epicentre was 123km southwest of the town of Pijijiapan, at a depth of 70km, according to USGS.
“It was a large-scale earthquake,” Pena Nieto said. “It had a bigger magnitude than the one Mexicans knew in 1985,” when thousands were killed in four states in the country.
Some of the worst initial reports came from the town of Juchitan in Oaxaca state, where sections of the town hall, a hotel, a bar and other buildings were reduced to rubble
Alejandro Murat, the state governor, said 23 deaths were registered in Oaxaca, 17 of them in Juchitan.
Two children were also killed in Tabasco state.
Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco said that three people were killed in San Cristobal, including two women who died when a house and a wall collapsed. He called on people living near the coast to leave their houses as a protective measure.
“There is damage to hospitals that have lost energy,” he said. “Homes, schools and hospitals have been damaged.”
The quake was so powerful that frightened residents in Mexico’s distant capital city fled apartment buildings, many in their pyjamas, and gathered in groups in the street.
“There have been half a dozen of magnitude five and four aftershocks reported already,” Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center, said in a statement.
“There are possibilities that the aftershocks will probably continue for the next several months.”