Magnitude 8.1 quake rocks Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Developments on Friday, Sept. 8, about a magnitude 8.1 Mexico earthquake (all times Central Daylight Time).

  • 3:15 p.m.

The head of Mexico’s civil defense agency said the death toll from the earthquake had risen to 58.

Luis Felipe Puente said officials confirmed 45 dead in the southern state of Oaxaca, the hardest-hit by the temblor.

Another 10 people died in Chiapas and three more in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

  • 1:15 p.m.

Hurricane Katia was strengthening as it approached Mexico’s Gulf coast. It was likely to strike land just about a day after the country was hit by the major earthquake.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Katia had winds of 105 mph (165 kph) early Friday afternoon, with strengthening expected.

It said the storm was centered about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of the port of Veracruz and it seemed headed for a strike early Saturday in an area known as the Emerald Coast that is popular with Mexican tourists.

Katia could bring life-threatening flash floods to areas in the mountains just to the west.

  • 1:00 p.m.

The earthquake appeared to have hit hardest in the city of Juchitan, a township of almost 100,000 people that’s a center of the Zapotec culture.

Oaxaca state government officials said 23 people died in the quake that hit just before midnight, and 17 of those were in Juchitan.

State spokesman Alfonso Martinez spoke by phone as he walked through the streets and said entire buildings had crumbled onto the sidewalks, reduced to scraps of bricks, adobes, and wooden roof beams.

He said he saw “a very high percentage of homes damaged or destroyed,” many of them built 30 to 50 years ago.

“It’s not just the roofs that have collapsed. In many cases the walls have cracked or collapsed completely,” Martinez said.

He said it was unlikely more dead would be found in the town, but said soldiers were still digging through the rubble.

  • 11:00 a.m.

Chiapas state civil defense director Luis Manuel Moreno said seven people were known dead and about 120 people injured across his state, the closest to the earthquake.

At least 32 were known to have died across the region as a whole.

Many buildings in the area were constructed of thick, unreinforced masonry walls, with timber roof beams supporting clay tile roofs. That appeared to have contributed to the injuries.

  • 10:25 a.m.

The overnight earthquake occurred within a seismic hotspot in the Pacific where one tectonic plate dives under another. These so-called subduction zones have been responsible for producing some of the biggest quakes in history, including the 2011 Fukushima disaster and the 2004 Sumatra quake that spawned a deadly tsunami.

Scientists are studying how this latest quake happened. But a preliminary analysis indicated the quake was triggered by the sudden breaking or bending of the Cocos plate, which dives beneath Mexico. This type of process doesn’t happen often in subduction zones; usually, big quakes in subduction zones occur along the boundary between the sinking slab and the overriding crust.

“It’s unusual, but it’s not unheard of,” seismologist Susan Hough of the U.S. Geological Survey said. “You get stresses on the seafloor and we know that can produce big earthquakes.”

  • 9:40 a.m.

The death toll from Mexico’s huge earthquake rose to 32.

Oaxaca state Gov. Alejandro Murat told local news media that at least 23 people in his state died after the quake.

Civil defense officials said at least seven people died in the state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala. Two others died in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

  • 7:45 a.m.

The quake matches the force of a magnitude 8.1 quake that hit the country on June 3, 1932, roughly 300 miles (500 kilometers) west of Mexico City.

A study by Mexico’s National Seismological Service said that quake was believed to have killed about 400 people, causing severe damage around the port of Manzanillo.

A powerful aftershock that hit 19 days later caused a tsunami that devastated 15 miles (25 kilometers) of coastline, killing 75 people.

Both the Mexican and U.S. services said the quake matched the magnitude of the 1932 temblor. The U.S. Geological Survey put both at 8.1 while the Mexican seismologists calculate them at 8.2. It’s common for different agencies to arrive at slightly different calculations of quake magnitude.

  • 5:00 a.m.

Authorities in Mexico said they were evacuating residents in Puerto Madero in Chiapas as a precaution because a tsunami alert issued after the earthquake.

Chiapas’ civil protection agency tweeted the evacuation was underway and posted photos of residents getting off a truck and going into what appeared to be a shelter. No further details were provided.

  • 3:50 a.m.

Mexican authorities said a hotel in Oaxaca collapsed.

Civil Defense photos showed the crumbling facade of the Anel hotel in Matias Romero and split in half. President Enrique Pena Nieto said no one was reported dead at the hotel.

Earlier, Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat said some people were able to escape from the hotel and authorities were working to determine if they were any casualties or missing people.

  • 2:50 a.m.

Mexico’s president said the earthquake was the biggest the country had seen in a century.

He also said major damage was caused and 1 million people initially had been without power, but electricity had been restored to 800,000 of them.

He said that there have been 62 aftershocks and it was possible one as strong as 7.2 could hit.

  • 2:20 a.m.

Tsunami waves were measured off Mexico’s Pacific coast after the quake.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center officials said waves of 3.3 feet (1 meter) above the tide level were measured off Salina Cruz. Smaller tsunami waves were observed on the coast or measured by ocean gauges in several other places.

The center’s forecast said people in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guatemala could see waves of a meter or less.

No threat was posed to Hawaii nor the western or South Pacific.

The 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of southern Mexico, toppling houses in Chiapas state, causing buildings to sway violently as far away as the country’s distant capital and setting off a tsunami warning.

  • 2:00 a.m.

The quake death toll included two children in Tabasco state.

Tabasco Gov. Arturo Nunez said one of the children died when a wall collapsed, and the other was a baby who died in a children’s hospital that lost electricity, cutting off the supply to the infant’s ventilator.

  • 12:15 a.m.

The powerful earthquake shook Mexico’s capital city, causing people to flee swaying buildings and knocking out lights to part of the city.

Even in distant Mexico City the quake was felt so strongly that frightened residents gathered in the streets in the dark, fearing buildings would collapse.

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