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At least 42 dead as earthquake hits Mexico City and destroys buildings and bridges

The US Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 7.1.

MEXICO-MEXICO CITY-EARTHQUAKE Students evacuate a school after the earthquake near Mexico City. Salvador Rodrigue / PA Images Salvador Rodrigue / PA Images / PA Images

A POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE has shuddered through Mexico City, destroying buildings and causing an unknown number of casualties among the city’s 20 million inhabitants.

The Governor of Morelos has said that there are at least 42 dead in his central Mexican state following quake.

The US Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 7.1 and occurred  on the exact anniversary of a devastating 1985 temblor.

“I’m so worried. I can’t stop crying. It’s the same nightmare as in 1985,” one resident in a plaza in the capital, Georgina Sanchez, 52, told AFP.

“We ran outside thinking all was going to collapse around us,” said Lazaro Frutis, a 45-year-old who escaped an office building before it crumpled to the ground.

“The worst thing is, we don’t know about our families or anything.”

The quake — which occurred in the early afternoon, hours after city authorities had conducted an earthquake drill — caused most of its damage in the south of the sprawling city.

There and in the centre, some buildings were reduced to debris and cars were flattened by falling stonework.

Emergency officials warned people in the streets to avoid smoking because of the risk of igniting gas leaking from ruptured pipes.

In several locations, people were seen clambering on buildings that were now crumpled stone and tangled metal to seek survivors and bodies.

‘Everyone was frantic’

The disaster immediately recalled the 1985 quake in which more than 10,000 people died, escalating panic among the population.

Jorge Lopez, a 49-year-old Spaniard living in Mexico City, said that when it happened he raced to the school where his children aged six and three were.

“We arrived at the school and everyone was crying, everyone was frantic, and the kids were holding on to a rope,” he said.

“It’s uncontrollable. You can’t do anything against nature,” he said.

An office building of around five stories in the chic Condesa district of central Mexico City had collapsed. Volunteers scrambled among the debris, pulling out three survivors and looking for more.

“There are people trapped there!” yelled one woman.

In the central Roma district, a school had collapsed.

Witnesses said another school was smashed to rubble in Cuernavaca, a town just south of the capital.

Unconfirmed social media posts suggested the city’s international airport had closed because of damage.

Mexico’s Seismological Institute said the quake’s epicenter was 7 km west of Chiautla de Tapia, in the state of Puebla neighbouring the Federal District where the capital is located.

US President Donald Trump vowed that he would “be there” for America’s southern neighbour Mexico after the earthquake struck.

The American president has tense relations with Mexico due to his fiery rhetoric on immigration.

Trump came under heavy criticism when he took days before offering condolences over another quake early this month that killed some 100 people.

© – AFP 2017 with reporting by Associated Press

Read: Location scout for Netflix drug lord drama shot dead in Mexico >

Read: ‘We are all collapsed, our homes and our people’: Death toll from Mexico earthquake reaches 61 >

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