By Uriel Sanchez
ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake struck southwestern Mexico near the beach resort of Acapulco on Tuesday, killing at least one man who was crushed by a falling post, and causing rock falls and damaging buildings, authorities said.
The quake of magnitude 7.0, which hit 11 miles (17.7 km) northeast of Acapulco, shook the hillsides around the city, downing trees and pitching large boulders onto roads, causing power outages in several states.
Many people gathered in the streets of the Mexican holiday destination amid the aftershocks.
“We were only just checking into the hotel, so we have all our things with us,” said Jessica Arias, who was part of a group of eight visiting from Mexico City, the capital. “They told us it’s still not safe to enter.”
Others said they were having dinner or at the cinema when the quake hit.
“We were in shock,” said Andrea del Valle, who was sitting on a pavement with her partner after rushing out of a cinema. “There were no earthquake alarms, so we felt it when it was already happening.”
Guerrero state governor Hector Astudillo told local television that a man was killed by a falling post in Coyuca de Benitez, a small town just west of Acapulco.
Authorities reported a gas leak at a café as well as damage to a hotel and a public hospital.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the earthquake had not caused major damages in Guerrero, the neighboring region of Oaxaca, Mexico City or any other areas.
Acapulco is roughly 230 miles (370 km) from Mexico City.
In the central Roma Sur neighborhood of Mexico City, lights went off and scared residents rushed out, some in little more than their pajamas, a Reuters witness said. Residents huddled together in the rain, holding young children or pets.
“It was terrible. It really reminds me of the 1985 quake every time something like this happens,” said Yesmin Rizk, a 70-year-old resident of the neighborhood. “I’m not sure we’ll sleep tonight.”
A massive earthquake that struck the Mexican capital in 1985 killed thousands of people.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said Tuesday’s quake, initially measured at a magnitude of 7.4 and later downgraded to 7.0, was relatively shallow, just 12 miles below the surface, which would have amplified the shaking effect.
Mexican state power utility the Comision Federal de Electricidad said in a statement 1.6 million users had been affected by the quake in Mexico City, the adjacent State of Mexico, and the states of Guerrero, Morelos and Oaxaca.
(Reporting by Uriel Sanchez, Sharay Angulo and Dave Graham, additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Writing by Shri Navaratnam; Editing by Sandra Maler, Christopher Cushing and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)