A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake has struck Mexico, killing more than 200 people, leaving many trapped under collapsed buildings and sending people flooding into the streets for the second time in just two weeks.

At least 217 people died in Mexico City — the country’s capital — and in the states of Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Morelos, officials said. Previously, authorities had said that as many as 248 people had died in the Tuesday’s disaster. The death toll was later revised, CNN reported.

The earthquake shook central Mexico at about 2.15 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday and had a magnitude of 7.1, the US Geological Survey said. Its epicentre was 4.5 km east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 55 km south-southwest of the city of Puebla, in Puebla state.

It came less than two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude quake hit the country on September 7 and killed nearly 100.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said 22 bodies were found in the debris of an elementary school in Mexico City that collapsed due to the earthquake. At least 30 children were still missing, he said.

“We are facing a new national emergency,” Peña Nieto told citizens earlier on his first address following the earthquake.

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Just hours before the quake hit, many people took part in drills and commemorative events.

The quake was felt far and wide. In Mexico City, there were power outages and more than 40 buildings collapsed crushing cars and trapping people inside.

Dozens of buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of nearby states also.

Thousands of soldiers, rescuers and civilians — including college students — in Mexico City clawed through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands. Windows buckled and shattered, falling several stories to the ground while thousands of people streamed into the streets running away from buildings and potential gas leaks.

People struggled to get home when power poles that toppled in the quake blocked the streets and the public transportation system temporarily shut down operations. Nearly 5 million customers were still without power early Wednesday.

In a televised address, the President said an emergency had been declared for the affected areas and the military was being drafted in to help with the response.

All public and private schools in Mexico City and some of the states affected by the earthquake will remain closed until further notice, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted.

Foreign leaders sent messages of support to Mexico. US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his support following the “devastating news”.

First Published | 20 September 2017 6:51 AM
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