Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Buildings topple as 7.2 magnitude quake hits Mexico

A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck near Mexico City, toppling buildings and extinguishing lights as thousands of people fled.

The temblor was the nation's second major earthquake this month, and struck 32 years to the day after a temblor with an 8.0 magnitude killed thousands in the city. The disaster closed the airport and stopped trading on the Mexican stock exchange.

Smoke plumes rose near the financial thoroughfare of Paseo de La Reforma, which was flooded with people -- many of them wearing hard hats -- as buildings swayed. Fallen concrete and shattered glass littered the streets, and at least one building collapsed in the Roma neighborhood.

"I was working when I felt the whole building shaking," said Luther Beatriz Ramirez, a government worker. "Everything started falling. It was like it was in ruins."

"We ran out of the building; we were really scared."

She left behind her keys and wallet in an office suddenly littered with ceiling tiles and dirt.

President Enrique Pena Nieto is returning to Mexico City from Oaxaca, he said in a tweet. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong on Twitter asked people to leave their buildings. Pemex, the state oil company, said it had activated its security protocol.

Worried that the quake could add to the economy's woes, investors sold Mexican assets, with the iShares MSCI Mexico Capped ETF dropped 0.6 percent at 3:20 p.m. in New York. The Mexico peso fell to a session low of 17.83 to the dollar.

Mexico is one of the world's most seismically active nations, sitting at the intersection of four major crustal plates, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter of Tuesday's temblor was in Puebla, outside the capital, according to European Mediterranean Seismological Centre. The quake came hours after emergency drills regularly held on the anniversary of the 1985 disaster.

On Sept. 7, a temblor hit offshore near Chiapas state with a magnitude of 8.2, according to the Geological Survey and Mexico's National Seismological Service. Tuesday's quake was much nearer to the capital.

"This was so much worse than the one a few weeks ago," Ramirez said.

randomness