The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 20, 2012

Strong, long 7.4 quake shakes Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A strong 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit Mexico on Tuesday, shaking central and southern parts of the country, collapsing a pedestrian bridge and swaying buildings in Mexico City. Plaster fell from ceilings and windows broke in the center of the capital, but the president said there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The initial quake near the borders of Oaxaca and Guerrero states was followed by a less powerful, magnitude-5.1 aftershock that also was felt in the capital.

Frightened workers and residents poured into the streets of the capital just minutes after noon local time. Telephone service was down in the city and throughout the area where the quake was felt.

About 40 passengers were stranded for a short time on the Mexico City airport air train, but later released. The airport closed for a time but officials said there was no runway damage and they resumed operations.

A pedestrian bridge collapsed and crushed a microbus in Mexico City, but there were still no reports of deaths. A building in the neighborhood of Condesa appeared to be on the verge of collapsing.

The quake was felt strongly in southern Guerrero state, where the epicenter was located about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the city of Ometepec. Neighboring Oaxaca state also shook heavily, including with two aftershocks.

Governors in both states reported on their Twitter accounts that there were not major reports of damage.

In Huajuapan, Guerrero, near the epicenter, hotel owner Marco Antonio Estrada also reported shaken-up guests but no major damage. He said it was longest and strongest he ever felt. People ran out of their homes and cars.

Samantha Rodriguez, a 37-year old environmental consultant, was evacuated from the 11th floor of the Angel Tower office building.

"I thought it was going to pass rapidly but the walls began to thunder and we decided to get out," she said.

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