Death toll rises to 61 after Mexico's strongest quake in 100 years

The magnitude 8.1 quake hit the southern coast of the South American country but was felt as far inland as Mexico City and Guatemala City. 

9 September 2017, 9:40am
Emergency services are conducting a large-scale relief effort
Emergency services are conducting a large-scale relief effort
At least  61 people have died in Mexico after the country was struck by its most powerful earthquake in a century.

The magnitude 8.1 quake hit the southern coast of the South American country but was felt as far inland as Mexico City and Guatemala City. The earthquake’s epicenter was 120 kilometers offshore in the Pacific Ocean,1,000 kilometers southeast of the capital.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said the seismic activity was the strongest earthquake Mexico has experienced in 100 years. The next strongest had occurred in September 1985, when a magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed an estimated 9,500 people around Mexico City.

The latest quake struck late on Thursday night, close to the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, home to about 9 million people. They are two of the most impoverished areas in Mexico, and are thought to be the hardest hit.

At least 45 people were killed in Oaxaca state, Mexico’s Civil Protection National Coordinator said on Twitter. Ten others died in Chiapas state and three were killed in Tabasco, he said.

The 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck around 120km offshore
The 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck around 120km offshore
The US Geological Survey (USGS) PAGER system, which predicts economic and human loss after earthquakes has reported multiple aftershocks, some measuring over 5 in magnitude and has issued a red alert. High casualties are expected.

Tsunami warnings were also issued by the National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Tsunami waves over 3 meters in height could hit the coast of Mexico, while 1 meter high waves could reach as far as Ecuador, New Zealand and Vanuatu, it said.

Mexico's army, marines and federal police have been deployed to respond to the crisis, but relief efforts will be complicated by Hurricane Katia and heavy rains could also contribute to water-borne illnesses, warned one aid agency. Individuals are bringing supplies in their personal vehicles because truck access to the area is limited.