At least 217 dead after powerful earthquake hits central Mexico

By Elliot Bullman

Authorities have confirmed that so far at least 54 people have died in the state of Morelos, with 30 perishing in Mexico City, 26 in Puebla state and nine in the state of Mexico, which borders the capital.

Emergency crews and volunteers continued through the night digging through rubble with their bare hands in search of trapped survivors.

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The magnitude 7.1 quake – the deadliest to hit the nation since 1985 – struck shortly after 1pm local time, causing violent, prolonged shaking, which flattened buildings and sent masonry tumbling onto streets, crushing cars and people in the Mexico City, and surrounding areas.


As night fell, rescuers armed with cutting tools and sniffer dogs scrambled to reach survivors pinned inside the ruins of offices, schools and apartment blocks amid plumes of dust and wailing sirens. Power cuts left much of the capital in darkness. Many people remained outdoors, fearful of aftershocks.

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This is the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.


The earthquake also appeared to have triggered an eruption of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano. In Atzitzihuacán on the slopes of the volcano, a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, Puebla governor José Antonio Gali said.

President, Enrique Peña Nieto, visited the site and was besieged by desperate parents, telling him that their children were missing.

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The overall death toll is expected to continue rising as emergency crews and improvised citizen brigades comb through rubble.

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Some 27 buildings collapsed in Mexico City, according to Peña Nieto. The president cut short a visit to the southern state of Oaxaca, which had been badly hit in the earlier quake.

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The US president, Donald Trump, who had been criticised for a perceived tardy response to the earlier disaster, responded on Tuesday within minutes, tweeting: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”


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