Mexico earthquake leaves at least 119 dead, others trapped in collapsed buildings

Mexico earthquake leaves at least 119 dead, others trapped in collapsed buildings

Mexico earthquake leaves at least 119 dead, others trapped in collapsed buildings

Updated 20 September 2017, 9:00 AEST

A major magnitude-7.1 earthquake strikes central Mexico, killing at least 119 people, toppling buildings in the heavily populated capital and forcing thousands of people into the streets in panic.

A major magnitude-7.1 earthquake has hit central Mexico, killing at least 119 people, trapping an unknown number of others beneath toppled buildings and forcing thousands of people into the streets in panic.

Key points:

  • Majority of deaths reported in state of Morelos
  • President Enrique Pena says 27 buildings collapsed in Mexico City
  • Epicentre was near Atencingo in central state of Puebla

Mexican President Enrique Pena said 27 buildings had collapsed or partially collapsed in Mexico City, one of the world's biggest cities.

TV images showed a multi-storey building with a middle floor collapsed as sirens blared from first responders rushing to the scene.

Other video showed cars crushed by debris, and the side of a government building coming apart and falling onto the street as bystanders screamed.

Many people fled into the streets, and electricity and phone lines were down in parts of the capital.

The highest death toll was in Morelos state, just south of Mexico City, where at least 54 deaths were reported.

The Governor of the state of Puebla, where the epicentre of the quake was located, said at least 26 people were killed there.

At least nine people were killed in the State of Mexico, according to officials.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said at least 30 people died in the capital and others were trapped in burning buildings.

The epicentre was 8 kilometres south-east of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla at a depth of 51 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

"We got out really fast, leaving everything as it was and just left," said Rosaura Suarez, as she stood with a crowd on the street.

Mexico City's international airport said it had suspended operations while officials checked for structural damage.

US President Donald Trump said on Twitter: "God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you."

Quake hits hours after national drills

The city and its surrounding area are home to about 20 million people.

The quake hit only hours after many people participated in earthquake drills around the nation on the anniversary of the devastating quake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985.

"People are really scared right now," said dentist Claudia Meneses, who was in her clinic in Mexico City's Lindavista neighbourhood when the earthquake struck mid-afternoon.

"We're going to go to a building that fell to see if we can help."

Many people were also still shaken from the recent quake on September 7, a powerful magnitude-8.1 that killed at least 98 people.

US Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle said the most recent earthquake was too far from the larger quake 11 days ago to be an aftershock and appears to be a separate and unrelated event.

Mr Pena was on a flight to Oaxaca, one of the hardest hit areas by that quake, and said via his Twitter account that he was immediately returning to attend to the quake in Mexico City.

Reuters