Magnitude-7.4 earthquake rocks southern and central Mexico

Magnitude-7.4 earthquake rocks southern and central Mexico

Photo of Amy Graff

Buildings swayed and people fled into the streets as a powerful magnitude-7.4 earthquake centered near the coastal tourist resort of Huatulco in Oaxaca rocked southern and central Mexico Tuesday.

The quake struck at 8:29 a.m. PST along Mexico's southern Pacific coast at a depth of 16 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter near El Coyul was about seven miles from Santa María Zapotitlán and 23 miles from Crucecita.

The USGS estimated that some 2 million people felt strong or moderate shaking and another 49 million felt weak or light shaking. Shaking was widely felt throughout south and central Mexico and as far as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Damage is light to moderate, according to the USGS shake map.

NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that tsunami waves reaching one to three meters above the tide level are possible within 621 miles of the epicenter, including along the coasts of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The National Weather Service said there's no tsunami threat along the U.S. West Coast or Canada.

In the state of Oaxaca, seismic alarms sounded midmorning with enough warning for residents to exit buildings. Power was knocked out to some areas, but there were not immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Helicopters flew over downtown Mexico City and police patrols sounded their sirens.

In Huatulco, a laid-back beach destination known for surfing and small protected coves, the earthquake knocked goods off shelves and some rubble from buildings.

Mari González of the Princess Mayev hotel in Huatulco said staff and guests were able to evacuate the building before the quake, but that 45 minutes after the initial quake they were still outside as strong aftershocks continued.

“It was strong, very strong,” she said.

González said there was some visible broken glass and mirrors, but no major damage. The staff was waiting for the aftershocks to dissipate before fully evaluating the property.

Video posted by local news media reported damage to some buildings in the state capital, Oaxaca city. State officials said they were looking for damage.

A 4.9 earthquake rattled the same area on Monday.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes. In 2017, two major earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.1 and 8. struck the country in two weeks, killing hundreds of people. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City.

See the latest USGS quake alerts, report feeling earthquake activity and tour interactive fault maps in the SFGATE's earthquake section.

This is a developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Amy Graff is a digital editor with SFGAET. Email her: agraff@sfgate.com.

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