Big Earthquake Hits Mexico, No Major Damage Reported

Evacuations after major 7.6 earthquake hits Mexico Pacific coast

3:43pm EDT
Strong 7.6 earthquake rattles Mexico City

By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY | Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:04pm EDT
(Reuters) – A major earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday, damaging buildings, scaring residents and prompting evacuations across the capital, although there were no early reports of serious damage.

Office buildings shook and office employees fled into the street when the 7.6-magnitude quake rattled Mexico City. Cell phone lines went down and traffic snarled in the capital moments after the quake, which lasted for more than a minute.

“I swear I never felt one so strong, I thought the building was going to collapse,” said Sebastian Herrera, 42, a businessman from a neighborhood hit hard in Mexico’s devastating 1985 earthquake, which killed thousands.

Television images showed part of a bridge collapsed onto a vehicle on Tuesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured.

Some buildings in the trendy district of Condesa were cracked, though mayor Marcelo Ebrard said via his twitter account there was no sign of major damage to the city from the air after conducting a helicopter flyover.

President Felipe Calderon also said on his twitter account there were no reports of serious damage from the quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, said the quake registered magnitude 7.6 and that its epicenter was in Guerrero state, near the Pacific Coast resort of Acapulco.

Mexican reports put the strength of the quake lower than the USGS, and residents of Acapulco told Reuters the quake did not appear too violent.

Gabino Cue, governor of Oaxaca state, said via twitter that the quake had caused cracks in school buildings and damaged roofs in one part of the state.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the inland earthquake would not generate a destructive widespread tsunami, but there was the possibility of some local tsunami effects.

The quake was felt as far away as Guatemala City.

(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Anthony Boadle and Kieran Murray)

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