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Major earthquake hits southern Mexico; 1 dead

A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico, leaving one man dead and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City but sparing infrastructure from serious damage.
Image: Locals wait outside their homes in Mexico City, Mexico, after an earthquake
Locals wait outside their homes in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday after an earthquake rattled buildings at 2:22 a.m. local time (7:22 GMT).Mario Guzman / EPA
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico early on Wednesday, leaving one man dead and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico City but sparing infrastructure from serious damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck near the town of Pinotepa Nacional, around 80 miles southwest of the colonial city of Oaxaca, Police patrols checking surrounding towns did not report fallen buildings.

In the small coastal village of San Andres Huaxpaltepec near the epicenter a falling beam crushed a 46-year-old man as he slept at home, said Luis Zarate, head of the emergency services service in the state of Oaxaca.

'Woke me up'
"It woke me up, I was scared too," said Gilberto Mateo, another civil protection official in Oaxaca.

In the historic center of the city of Oaxaca people felt the tremor strongly and several hotels were evacuated briefly.

"It was pretty strong," said Jorge Cervantes, a security guard at Hotel Las Gaviotas in Pinotepa Nacional. "Some guests went downstairs but the building is fine and nobody is hurt."

The USGS reported the quake as magnitude 6.5 but later revised the figure to 6.2, also moving the epicenter slightly.

Some hotel guests in the cobblestoned center of Oaxaca felt the tremor strongly and evacuated briefly.

'Very strong'
However Eliel Medina, who works on the front desk of the Hotel de la Parra in Oaxaca City, reacted calmly.

"I noticed it first when I saw that the computer monitor started to move … it was very strong," he told "I didn't leave my desk because I am working. I waited for it to pass and then it started again. The second one was stronger."

He said the first tremor lasted around 20 seconds and the second around 10 seconds.

Image: Locator map of earthquake in Oaxaca, Mexico

The mountainous Oaxaca state is the fifth largest in Mexico and is filled with historic buildings.

"I'm from Pinotepa [a few miles from the epicenter] and the truth is I've never felt anything so strong," wrote a listener of Caracol Radio, who was identified as "Magdiel," on its website.

Witnesses in Mexico City said buildings shook and people fled from their beds into the streets in the city center.

There were power outages in some neighborhoods in the northern part of the sprawling capital, according to local radio reports.

'Most horrible sensation'
Rodrigo Javier Aguiar, of BNO News' office in Mexico City, reported feeling strong shaking.

"I was about to sleep when I felt a small movement, but then everything started to sway," he said, according to the news service.

"Most horrible sensation. I'm on an eighth floor. I was unable to walk to the stairs," he added on his Twitter account. "Funny the sound that a building makes as it sways back and forth — like slicing through the wind."

"I felt it like I almost always do. People came running out of the building," said Pedro Salazar, 42, a security guard at a four-story historic apartment building in Mexico City.

Search helicopters whirred over the capital and police sirens were heard, but power and phone connections were working in the city center.

El Universal, one of Mexico's main newspapers, reported the quake was felt in the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Puebla.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had no warning or advisory in place.

"We didn't feel it here, everything is quiet," said Abel, a receptionist at a hotel in the beach resort of Puerto Angel, on the Pacific coast.

Mexico is regularly shaken by tremors and is on tenterhooks ever since devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile earlier this year.