Health workers and patients remain outside the Durango clinic in Mexico City during a quake on Tuesday. AFP
Pope Francis is praying for victims of a powerful earthquake in southern Mexico.
Francis spoke off the cuff during his weekly general audience on Wednesday to express his solidarity with Mexico. Speaking in his native Spanish, Francis said: "Yesterday a violent earthquake hit the south of Mexico causing victims, injuries and enormous damage. Let’s pray for them. May the help of God and our brothers give them strength and support. Brothers and sisters, I am very close to you.”
A 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico on Tuesday, killing six people, sending hundreds fleeing from their homes and forcing the closure of a major state-owned oil refinery.
Hundreds of aftershocks were reported in the hours following the initial tremor, which was felt in Mexico City, some 700 kilometers (430 miles) distant from the epicenter in Crucecita, in Oaxaca state.
"We had to leave because there is a risk that the market will collapse. We are hardly selling anything because of the pandemic and now if the market is closed we will have a worse time," said Juana Martinez, 60, a flower-seller in Oaxaca city.
All the deaths occurred in Oaxaca, with the majority due to the collapse of buildings. A woman died near Crucecita, and five other people died in towns located within 150 kilometers of the epicenter, officials said.
The 7.4 quake struck at a depth of 23 kilometers, the US Geological Survey reported.
An initial tsunami warning was later reversed.
There was no damage reported to "strategic infrastructure" including ports, airports, refineries and hydroelectric plants, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a video published on social media.
Mexican Oil said its refinery in Salina Cruz in Oaxaca had been shut down as a precaution after a fire broke out at the plant "that was immediately stifled."
One of the dead from the earthquake was a worker at the refinery, who was killed after falling off a high structure.
Other refineries in the state are operating as normal, Mexican Oil said.
Rescuers were battling to reach a remote area of the rugged state amid reports that 15 workers had become trapped while constructing a highway.
The quake also caused slight damage to four hospitals and a clinic, as well as to churches, markets and other buildings, authorities said.
Six hours after the quake, 447 aftershocks had been recorded across the region, the strongest at a magnitude of 4.6.
The US Pacific Tsunami warning center initially said hazardous waves as high as three meters could strike anywhere within 1,000 kilometers of the quake's epicenter, affecting the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central and South America.Agence France-Presse
The area surrounding the popular Huatulco beach resort in the southern state of Oaxaca was hardest hit by the 7.4 magnitude quake, but the shaking could be felt as far away as Mexico City, where tall buildings swayed and thousands of people raced into the streets.
Seismic alarms sounded midmorning with enough warning for residents to exit buildings. Power was knocked out to some areas.
The epicentre of the quake, which struck at about 1:45am (1745 GMT) at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), was located about 140 kilometres north-northwest of the city of Xining, US seismologists said.
A 28-year-old woman who was injured when a rock fell on her house in the town of Stolac, near Mostar, died in hospital, a medical source quoted by media said. Several others were lightly injured, including members of the victim's family.
"We still have to bury a man and his two twin daughters. They're dead but we haven't recovered the bodies," she added. Other burials are planned in the coming days.
"The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials," the statement said, with "preliminary information" suggesting fireworks were to blame for the blaze.
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