A strong and prolonged 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:39pm CT yesterday caused material damage and left almost a million homes without power, but no direct casualties.
The only deaths occurred when a helicopter carrying officials to the scene of the quake crashed in Oaxaca and killed 13 people.
The quake, whose epicenter was 11 kilometers south of Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca, was felt in 11 states as well as Mexico City and lasted for more than a minute.
According to the National Seismological Service, 389 aftershocks had been detected as of 5:30am, the largest of which struck less than an hour after the initial quake and had a magnitude of 5.9.
Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat said the state’s coast was the worst affected area but there were no reports of loss of life.
Buildings in both Pinotepa and the nearby town of Santiago Jamiltepec were damaged, including a public hospital and police station in the former.
State authorities reported that 50 homes had been damaged in Jamiltepec as well as a church and the town’s hospital, which was evacuated when the quake struck.
Houses in the neighboring municipalities of Tututepec and San José del Progreso were also damaged and a landslide occurred on federal highway 200 between Pinotepa and Jamiltepec.
Some buildings in the state capital also suffered damage including the Civil Hospital and a local government building.
The head of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Alejandro Domínguez, reported that 998,000 homes and businesses in Mexico City and the states of Oaxaca, México, Guerrero and Morelos experienced power outages in the aftermath of the earthquake.
But no power stations in the country suffered any structural damage, Domínguez said, and by midnight the CFE reported that electricity had been restored to 542,000 clients, or 54% of those affected.
In Mexico City, citizens still nervous following the September 19 earthquake rushed into the streets after seismic alarms were activated.
The alarm gave residents 72 seconds to evacuate buildings before the quake reached the capital and functioned effectively despite recent sensor problems that affected the transmission of signals from Oaxaca to Mexico City.
Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera reported that there was no major damage in the capital but a 10-year-old girl had sustained minor injuries and 42 people suffered nervous breakdowns.
Thousands of buildings in Mexico City suffered structural damage in the September 19 earthquake but no major additional damage was reported, nor did any buildings collapse.
However, parts of the façades of three already damaged apartment buildings in the Condesa neighborhood came away and crashed to the ground, causing alarm but no injuries.
The Mexico City government also reported the explosion of transformers, gas leaks, fallen cables, seven collapsed poles and two fallen walls.
Shortly after the quake hit, President Enrique Peña Nieto wrote on Twitter that Civil Protection protocols had been activated because the earthquake’s magnitude exceeded 7.0.
The measures included the convening of the National Emergency Committee at the National Disaster Prevention Center (Cenapred) in Mexico City.
Although there were no deaths directly caused by the temblor, it did play a role in a fatal accident that occurred last night in Santiago Jamiltepec.
An official visit to the epicenter of the earthquake turned to tragedy when an armed forces helicopter crashed, killing 13 people.
Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida and Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat were traveling in the helicopter but were not injured.
Yesterday’s earthquake came five months after two major earthquakes in September caused extensive damage and loss of life in southern and central Mexico.
CORRECTION: This story has been edited to correct the number of fatalities in the helicopter crash. Earlier reports pegged the number at 14.
Scenes of earthquake damage in Santiago Jamiltepec