At least 1 dead after 7.6-magnitude earthquake strikes Mexico's Pacific coast, officials say

Alarms for the new quake came less than an hour after a quake alarms warbled in a nationwide earthquake simulation.

ByABC7.com staff via KABC logo
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
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A 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook the Pacific coast of central Mexico Monday, killing at least one person, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

MEXICO CITY (KABC) -- A magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook Mexico's central Pacific coast on Monday, killing at least one person and setting off a seismic alarm in the rattled capital on the anniversary of two earlier devastating quakes.

The quake hit around 11:05 a.m. at a depth of about nine miles, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey, which initially put the magnitude at 7.5. The quake was centered about 23 miles southeast of Aquila near the boundary of Colima and Michoacán states.

The shaking set off an earthquake alarm in the capital. Alarms for the new quake came less than an hour after a quake alarms warbled in a nationwide earthquake simulation marking major quakes that struck on the same date in 1985 and 2017.

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said via Twitter that the secretary of the navy told him one person was killed in the port city of Manzanillo, Colima when a wall fell inside a store.

In Coalcoman, Michoacan, near the quake's epicenter, buildings were damaged, but there were not immediate reports of injuries.

A woman visiting Mexico from Los Angeles spoke with Eyewitness News about her experience, calling it frightening.

"It's a very scary feeling because you never know what's going to end up," she said. "And then eventually, it starts very mildly and then you start feeling it. Then at the end, you kind of feel like a whiplash when it's about to end and that's the scariest feeling of all. Is it happening all over again?"

"It started slowly and then was really strong and continued and continued until it started to relent," said 16-year-old Carla Cárdenas, a resident of Coalcoman. Cárdenas ran out of her family's hotel and waited with neighbors.

She said the hotel and some homes along the street displayed cracks in walls and segments of facades and roofs had broken off.

"In the hotel, the roof of the parking area boomed and fell to the ground, and there are cracks in the walls on the second floor," Cárdenas said.

She said the town's hospital was seriously damaged, but she had so far not heard of anyone injured.

Mexico's National Civil Defense agency said that based on historic data of tsunamis in Mexico, variations of as much as 32 inches were possible in coastal water levels near the epicenter. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center said that hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts within 186 miles of the epicenter.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted that there were no reports of damage in the capital

"This is a coincidence," that this is the third Sept. 19 earthquake, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. "There's no physical reason or statistical bias toward earthquakes in any given month in Mexico."

Nor is there a season or month for big earthquakes anywhere on the globe, Earle said. But there is a predictable thing: People seek and sometimes find coincidences that look like patterns.

"We knew we'd get this question as soon as it happened," Earle said. "Sometimes there are just coincidences."

The quake was not related to or caused by the drill an hour or so earlier, nor was it connected to a damaging temblor in Taiwan the day before, Earle said.

Humberto Garza stood outside a restaurant in Mexico City's Roma neighborhood holding his 3-year son. Like many milling about outside after the earthquake, Garza said that the earthquake alarm sounded so soon after the annual simulation that he was not sure it was real.

"I heard the alarm, but it sounded really far away," he said.

Outside the city's environmental ombudsman's office, dozens of employees waited. Some appeared visibly shaken.

Power was out in parts of the city, including stoplights, snarling the capital's already notorious traffic.

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DEVELOPING: We will add more details to this report as they become available. The Associated Press contributed to this report.