Quake Hits Off Southern Mexico And Is Felt As Far Away As Mexico City

Sep 8, 2017
Originally published on September 8, 2017 8:11 am
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We are tracking two natural disasters this morning, Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic and an earthquake that hit overnight off the coast of Mexico. The USGS says it was an 8.1 magnitude quake that hit near Chiapas. That's southern Mexico, near the border with Guatemala.

(SOUNDBITE OF EARTHQUAKE)

KELLY: And that is what it sounded like in Tuxtla Gutierrez, as uploaded by a user on Periscope, the video-sharing site. Mexico's president says this is the strongest quake to hit that country in a century, felt as far away as Mexico City, which is where we find New York Times reporter Elizabeth Malkin. She joins us now via Skype. Elisabeth, I would say good morning, but it sounds like that's not really the case in Mexico, sadly.

ELISABETH MALKIN: Well, Mexico City was - emerged fairly unscathed. There's always a great concern here, a great worry here based on the memory of the truly tragic 1985 earthquake, that this city will relive it. But fortunately, that didn't happen last night. The epicenter was much further away than the 1985 earthquake. And so while we all felt it and rushed out of our houses and there were, you know, people in pajamas and people spilling out of bars looking up at wave - you know, shaking trees and trembling buildings. The city appears to be safe today.

KELLY: Yeah. For people trying to get their head around the geography, we're talking about 650 miles or so from where you are in the capital in Mexico City and the epicenter of the quake. What can you tell us about damage in the rest of the country? I know it's early hours still.

MALKIN: That's correct. It is early hours still. And the states where there's concern are the states of Chiapas, which is on the border with Guatemala, and the Pacific state of Oaxaca, which borders Chiapas. There are reports of collapsed buildings in a town called Juchitan. And there were deaths in - at least two deaths in Chiapas, two more deaths in another state called Tabasco, also in the south of the country. But we're going to know more today about some of those collapsed buildings and how many fatalities and injuries there might be as a result of that.

KELLY: And just briefly, Elisabeth, there are also reports that this triggered high enough waves that there might be some sort of tsunami happening as well? Elisabeth Malkin in Mexico City. It looks like we've lost that line. Phone lines among the many things struggling to recover from this 8.1 magnitude earthquake that unfolded overnight off the coast of southern Mexico. We were speaking there with New York Times reporter Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.