Powerful Earthquake Devastates Central Mexico, Leaving Over 100 Dead

People remove the debris of a collapsed building as they look for possible victims after the 7.1 magnitude quake rattled Mexico City on Tuesday.

Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Image

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

Thirty-two years to the day after an earthquake killed thousands of people in Mexico, a powerful quake rattled the country’s central region Tuesday. Buildings shivered in Mexico City, shattering facades and sending clouds of dust skyward.

Residents, who just hours before had taken part in large simulated-earthquake drills to mark the anniversary, emptied into the streets when the real quake struck.

“Many people had just returned to their desks when the real one hit,” freelance reporter Natasha Pizzey told All Things Considered.

“It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced in my life,” she said. “It’s a bit like being on top of a double-decker bus that’s trying to brake and you’re thinking you’re about to get thrown. And of course, you’re thinking, ‘Are things going to fall on top of me — is the building going to collapse?’ ”

In its preliminary assessment, the U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 earthquake’s epicenter was just over 3 miles east-northeast of Raboso, in the state of Puebla, some 75 miles southeast of Mexico City.

In the neighboring state of Morelos, 54 people were killed, according to local officials and news reports. Alfredo Del Mazo, governor of the state of Mexico, tweeted that at least nine people have died in his state. And Puebla Gov. Tony Gali told an emergency meeting of local officials that at least 26 people had died there, several of whom were children.

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