Mexico’s most powerful earthquake in more than eight decades hit off the country’s southern coast late Thursday evening, damaging and destroying hundreds of buildings and killing at least 34 people.
The 8.1-magnitude quake triggered hundreds of aftershocks and a small tsunami near Salina Cruz in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The largest waves were 1 meter high, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported.
Thousands of residents in coastal areas, including the hard-hit state of Chiapas, were evacuated as a precaution.
About 50 million people felt the tremor ― including those living in Mexico City, hundreds of miles from the quake’s epicenter ― and nearly 2 million people lost power, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said. He offered his condolences to families of the deceased and warned more aftershocks could be yet to come.
In 1985, Mexico was struck by a devastating but less powerful earthquake, which claimed thousands of lives and injured tens of thousands of people.
“We have experienced earthquakes before, but not like this. It was so intense,” Chiapas resident Gonazalo Segundo, who was awoken by the disaster on Thursday, told CNN. “I was already in bed. I was in my place, so we were expecting to have a tranquil night but suddenly ... everything breaks apart, glasses, furniture and everything.”
Meanwhile, Mexicans on the country’s east coast are bracing for another potential crisis. Hurricane Katia, a Category 2 storm, is expected to strike the Gulf Coast in the state of Veracruz on Saturday morning. It could strengthen to a Category 3 storm by landfall and cause extreme flooding, analysts warn.
The following photos offer a glimpse of destruction caused by Thursday’s earthquake.