A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 struck central Mexico on Tuesday killing nearly 224 people, and injuring many more. Several people are still said to be trapped under the debris after scores of buildings collapsed.
Hours after the quake, rescue workers were racing against time and clawing through the wreckage to find survivors.
Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos are said to be the worst-hit areas.
The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 PM and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 123 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.
The federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City, freeing up emergency funds. President Enrique Pena Nieto ordered all hospitals to open their doors to the injured. Authorities said at least 70 people in the capital had been hospitalized for injuries.
Thousands had fled into the streets in panic when the quake struck. Electricity and cellphone services snapped in many areas.
Mariana Morales, a survivor, said she was in a taxi when the quake struck, and she got out and sat on a sidewalk to try to recover from the scare. Then, just a few yards away, the three-story building fell.
“It’s ugly, very ugly,” said another survivor Carlos Mendoza, who was pitching in with the rescue work.
Earlier in the day, workplaces across Mexico City held earthquake readiness drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that killed thousands of people and devastated large parts of the capital. Interestingly, the powerful quake struck on the same day in 1985.
“I told them that it was not a game, that we should be prepared,” said Adelina Anzures, a school director at the Instituto Morelos secondary school partly collapsed in Jojutla town near Morelos. There the quake struck just two hours after they completed the drill.
Mexico City’s international airport suspended operations and was checking facilities for damage.
(With inputs from agencies)