Civil Defense: Mexico quake death toll hits 139

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — The head of Mexico’s National Civil Defense agency says the death toll from a major earthquake that rattled the center of the country has reached 139.

Luis Felipe Puente said 64 people had died in the state of Morelos, just south of Mexico City, though local officials reported only 54. In addition, 36 people died in Mexico City, 29 in Puebla state, nine in the State of Mexico and one in Guerrero.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 76 miles (123 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.
Del Mazo said a quarry worker was killed when the quake unleashed a rock slide, and another died when hit by a falling lamppost.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 76 miles (123 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.

Mexico City mayor says there are reports of people trapped in collapsed buildings after quake.

Earlier in the day buildings across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake.

The 7.1 earthquake was too far from the larger quake 11 days ago to be an aftershock and appears to be a separate and unrelated event, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. The epicenters of the two quakes are 650 kilometers apart and most aftershocks are within 100 kilometers, Earle said.

Tuesday’s quake was at a known tectonic fault, but not at the edges of two moving plates, like many strong earthquakes, Earle said. This fault was inside the Cocos plate, which about 300 kilometers further east slips under the North American plate. As that happens, there is a “pulling apart motion” of the plates, he said.

There have been 19 earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or larger within 250 kilometers of Tuesday’s quake in the past century, Earle said.

Tuesday’s quake happened on the anniversary of a deadly 1985 Mexico City 8.0 magnitude earthquake, Earle said.

Earth usually has about 15 to 20 earthquakes this size or larger each year, Earle said.

Initial calculations show that more than 30 million people would have felt moderate shaking from Tuesday’s quake. The US Geological Survey predicts “significant casualty and damage are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.”