Powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes south of Mexico City

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 has struck central Mexico, with strong shaking felt in Mexico City and causing multiple buildings to collapse, witnesses and officials say. There are reports of casualties.

The earthquake, which struck at 1:14 p.m. local time on Tuesday, was centered near the city of Izúcar de Matamoros in the state of Puebla, or about 112 kilometers (70 miles) southeast of the capital. It struck at a depth of 51 kilometers (31 miles), making it a relatively shallow earthquake.

Very strong shaking was felt in areas near the epicenter and strong shaking was felt as far away as Mexico City, where scores of people fled from their buildings. Several buildings were said to have collapsed in the capital, trapping an unknown number of people.

The full extent of damage and casualties was not immediately clear.

Computer models from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that as many as 79.6 million people could have felt the earthquake, including 1.4 million people who experienced “very strong” shaking and another 8.3 million who experienced “strong” shaking.

“Significant casualties and damage are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread,” the USGS said.

Tuesday’s earthquake came just an hour after a nationwide earthquake preparedness drill, which took place on the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that struck the coast of Michoacan, causing widespread damage in Mexico City and killing up to 10,000 people.

The earthquake comes also less than two weeks after a major 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of southern Mexico, killing nearly 100 people.

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