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At least five people have been killed after a huge earthquake struck off the coast of Mexico, triggering warnings of tsunamis and damage to the country’s capital.
Buildings shook violently in Mexico City, where people ran into streets as panic swept through the area and large swathes of the city were left without electricity.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.0 and its epicentre was 102 miles west of Tapachula in southern Chiapas state. It had a depth of 35km.
But even in distant Mexico City, the quake was felt so strongly that frightened residents gathered in the streets in the dark, fearing buildings would collapse.
The US Tsunami Warning System said the earthquake was a potential tsunami threat to several Central American countries, including the Pacific coastlines of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica.
It said the threat was still being evaluated for Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific islands.
The governor of the Mexican state of Chiapas Manuel Velasquez said that at least three people had been killed in his region.
Two more were killed in neighbouring Tabasco state. He said the first three deaths occurred in San Cristobal de las Casas.
He added that the quake had damaged hospitals and schools.
Windows were broken at Mexico City airport and power went out in several neighbourhoods of the capital. The cornice of a hotel collapsed in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, a witness said.
People in the capital, one of the world’s largest cities, ran out into the streets in pyjamas and alarms sounded after the quake struck just before midnight.
Helicopters hovered overhead a few minutes later, apparently looking for damage to buildings in the city, which is built on a spongy, drained lake bed.
In one central neighbourhood, dozens of people stood outside after the quake, some wrapped in blankets against the cool night air. Children were crying.
Liliana Villa, 35, was in her apartment when the earthquake struck and she fled to the street in her pyjamas.
“It felt horrible, and I thought, ‘this is going to fall’.”
Luis Carlos Briceno, an architect, 31, who was visiting Mexico City, said: “I had never been anywhere where the earth moved so much. At first I laughed, but when the lights went out I didn’t know what to do.
“I nearly fell over.”
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