Mexico hit by 7.2 magnitude earthquake

There were no reports of major casualties after the earthquake

A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday morning local time. There were no reports of major casualties.

The US Geological Survey said the quake which hit at about 9:30am (14:30 GMT) was centred on a long-dormant fault line north-west of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are spending the Easter holiday.

The tremor struck in Tecpan de Galeana, 170 miles (273 km) south-west of the capital Mexico City, and was felt across at least half a dozen states. There were no early reports of serious damage or injuries near the epicentre.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there were small power cuts from fallen transformers but officials were working to restore the service.

As Mexico City sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds, it is vulnerable to even distant earthquakes. The damage in the capital in the wake of the tremour left several walls collapse, large cracks formed in some facades, and debris covering pavements.

In Acapulco, 59-year-old Enedina Ramirez Perez was having breakfast and enjoying the Easter holiday with about 20 family members, when her hotel was hit by the quake.

“People were turning over chairs in their desperation to get out, grabbing children, trampling people,” the Mexico City woman said. “The hotel security was excellent and starting calming people down. They got everyone to leave quietly.”

The USGS initially calculated the quake's magnitude at 7.5, but later downgraded it to 7.2. It said the quake was centred 22 miles (36km) north-west of the town of Tecpan de Galeana, and was 15 miles (24km) deep.

Friday’s earthquake occurred along a section of the Pacific Coast known as the Guerrero Seismic Gap, a 125-mile (200km) section where tectonic plates meet and have been locked, meaning huge amounts of energy are being stored up with potentially devastating effects, said USGS seismologist Gavin Hayes.

The last large quake that occurred along the section was a magnitude-7.6 temblor in 1911, he said.

He added that scientists will be watching the area more intensely because moderate quakes such as Friday's can destabilise the surrounding sections of seismic plate and increase the chance of a more powerful temblor.

The USGS says the Guerrero Gap has the potential to produce a quake as strong as magnitude 8.4, potentially much more powerful than the magnitude-8.1 quake that killed 9,500 people and devastated large sections of Mexico City in 1985.

The 1985 quake was centred 250 miles (400km) from the capital on the Pacific Coast.

Additional reporting by PA