MEXICO CITY (AP) — One of the most powerful earthquakes ever to strike Mexico has hit off its southern coast, killing at least 15 people, toppling houses and businesses and sending panicked people into the streets more than 650 miles (1,000 kilometers) away.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit off Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude as 8.1 — slightly stronger than the magnitude 8 quake of 1985 quake that killed thousands and devastated large parts of Mexico City.
Hundreds of buildings collapsed or were damage, power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people and authorities closed schools Friday in at least 11 states to check them for safety.
The USGS said the quake struck at 11:49 p.m. Thursday (12:49 a.m. EDT ; 0449 GMT Friday) and its epicenter was 102 miles (165 kilometers) west of Tapachula in Chiapas. It had a depth of 43.3 miles (69.7 kilometers).
The US Tsunami Warning System said waves “reaching more than three meters” were possible along some of Mexico’s coast.
The earthquake was a potential tsunami threat to several Central American countries, including the Pacific coastlines of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica, it said.