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Mexico earthquake: Mexico dodges bullet in 7.4 earthquake - no deaths

March 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
After a magnitude-7.4 earthquake and 10 aftershocks, there were only 11 reported injuries, but not a single death.

It's hard to believe that a quake of that magnitude caused so little damage in Mexico City, a city with more than 22 million residents. But that is story here: Mexico dodged a bullet.

The earthquake was centered near Ometepec. Experts say the quake was shallow, about 11 miles below the surface. Authorities said the absence of tall buildings in the mountainous rural area is one reason for the lack of casualties.

Just one day after the quake sent thousands of people running out of buildings, life in the bustling metropolis appeared to go back to normal - with a few exceptions.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said about 300,000 people in the south side of the capital were without water after the quake damaged two aqueducts.

And a 14-story government building remains evacuated. Several hundred employees returned to work, only to find inspectors checking the integrity of the building. They were told to wait outside.

Claudia Caballero says the shaking was fierce on the 12th floor of the building where she works, but she wasn't at all concerned about returning to work.

Another young woman said the quake cut out power for hours. Cell service was jammed, and even pay phones were out of service.

But unlike the magnitude-8.0 quake in 1985 that killed 10,000 people, Tuesday's quake centered 200 miles away from the capital and released far less energy.

Many believe that the retrofitting done after the 1985 earthquake was what helped prevent damage, and they say the process of the emergency evacuation also went very smoothly.

Closer to the epicenter in Guerrero state, authorities say hundreds of homes are flattened, but in nearby Igualapa, 200 homes are confirmed to be damaged. It was earlier reported that 800 homes had been damaged.

Mexican officials are surveying homes, schools and hospitals near the epicenter, and they expect better damage estimates later.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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