Tourists stand outside their hotel in Acapulco, Mexico, Friday after the earthquake, which struck at 12:42 a.m. local time.
updated 4/13/2007 1:53:16 PM ET 2007-04-13T17:53:16

A strong earthquake shook southern Mexico early Friday, knocking out power in parts of Mexico City and Acapulco, swaying tall buildings and sending frightened people into the streets in their pajamas.

Civil defense officials in Mexico and the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, where the magnitude 6 quake was centered, said there were no reports of any deaths or widespread damage.

Dozens of buildings in Mexico City were evacuated amid reports that they suffered structural damage, and officials were inspecting them to determine if they were still safe.

Among them were a five-story apartment building that was leaning precariously and another graffiti-covered, art-deco apartment complex riddled with fissures. Some two dozen families, residents of both buildings, spent the night in the street or in their cars.

One person was injured falling down stairs trying to get out of a building.

The quake, which hit at 12:42 a.m. local time, was felt strongly from the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco to the mountain capital of Mexico City because it was centered inland — 40 miles northwest of Acapulco — and just 18 miles below the earth’s surface, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Many of Mexico’s earthquakes are centered at sea.

5.4 aftershock
Several aftershocks followed, including one, pre-dawn magnitude 5.4 that was felt throughout much of southern Mexico.

Mexico City Civil Defense Secretary Miguel Moreno Brizuela said the quake knocked out power to about 20 percent of the homes in the city’s downtown district, and there were reports of outages in parts of Acapulco.

About 100 people from one community near Acapulco were evacuated to a park after a nearby water treatment plant reported a chlorine leak, civil protection official Nadia Vela said.

At the high-rise, beach-side Fairmont Acapulco Princess Hotel, hundreds of guests rushed outside, huddling on deck chairs as security officials used megaphones to urge them to remain calm.

“We flew out of bed. The building was shaking,” said Marcy Olsen, 41, a manager of gas stations in Grand Marais, Minn. “I said, ’I think this has to be an earthquake.’ We looked out the door, and everyone was leaving.”

She was on vacation with her husband,

Brian, 46, and their 13-year-old twin daughters.

“Where we are from, there’s no such thing,” Brian Olsen said. “Blizzards and cold, yes, but no earthquakes.”

Panic attacks in capital
In Mexico City, ambulances could be heard wailing through the streets amid reports that some people had suffered panic attacks. The capital is built on a sandy lake bed that shifts and shimmies, magnifying earthquakes, and many still remember the magnitude-8.1 quake in 1985 that killed some 10,000 people as it leveled parts of Mexico City.

Alfredo Sanchez, a 37-year-old construction worker renovating a century-old house in downtown Mexico City, was awoken by shouts from his co-workers to get up and take refuge under the concrete beams they had just installed in the old building.

“When I was lying down, I didn’t feel it so much, but as soon as I got up, I felt it,” said Sanchez, who stood outside on the sidewalk with his workmates after the temblor. “For our own safety, we got out.”

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