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At Least 35 Dead In Mexico’s Strongest Quake On Record

A National Seismologic Service monitor
Head of Government Mexico City
A National Seismologic Service monitor

Mexico was shaken overnight by the country’s strongest earthquake on record, killing at least 35 people in the southern states and swaying buildings in the capital.

The tremor revived memories of a 1985 earthquake in Mexico City that killed more than 5,000 people, though initial reports showed Thursday night’s quake, which struck in the state of Chiapas bordering Guatemala, didn’t cause fatalities at that scale. With information about the impact on remote rural communities still coming in, the Associated Press reported the death toll was at least 35.

The tremor hit at about 11:49 p.m. and registered at a magnitude 8.2, according to the National Seismologic Service, making it stronger than the 8.0 earthquake of 1985.

It’s likely figures would be worse if it weren’t for an alert system set up after 1985 earthquake. On Thursday night, sensors throughout the country picked up the quake near its epicenter hundreds of miles from the capital, triggering an alarm with the National Seismic Alert System, which then activates sirens in major population centers, explains Antonio Uribe, a seismologist with the Federal Power Commission.
Mexico City and Puebla were among the cities where sirens went off but no major incidents were reported, Uribe said.

“So if the earthquake is close, let’s say Acapulco, you’ve got in the order of 60 seconds to do something," Uribe said.

In Chiapas, authorities issued a tsunami warning.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.