Photo Courtesy: Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse (AFP) / Getty Images

A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 119 people in Mexico City and surrounding states, toppling buildings in the populated capital and forcing thousands of people into the streets in panic. Dozens of buildings collapsed or were damaged in heavily populated parts of Mexico City and surrounding states. At least 54 people have been killed in the central Mexican state of Morelos, the governor of the region has said. Authorities reported 30 others were killed in Mexico City, 26 others died in Puebla state and 9 other deaths in the State of Mexico. The overall death toll was expected to continue rising as emergency workers and ordinary citizens combed through the debris. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 44 buildings were completely damaged.

The horrendous quake came less than two weeks after a powerful 8.1 temblor killed at least 90 people in the country’s south. Tuesday’s earthquake happened on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 quake, a magnitude 8.0 shake, which killed as many as 10,000 people in Mexico and devastated large parts of Mexico City.

The new earthquake struck at 1:14 pm (local time) and was centred near the town of Axochiapan in the central state of Morelos, about 160km from Mexico City, according to the National Seismological Service. The Mexican National Seismological Service recorded the Tuesday’s earthquake at a 7.1 magnitude. Earthquakes of magnitude 7 or above are regarded as major and are capable of causing significant casualty and widespread heavy damage, reports Reuters. The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was 76 miles (123 kilometres) southeast of the capital, near the town of Raboso in the state of Puebla. The earthquake struck at a depth of about 33 miles (51 km).

People remove the rubble of a damaged building that collapsed in Mexico City after a powerful earthquake struck on Tuesday. Photo Courtesy: Alfredo Estrella/Agence France-Presse (AFP) / Getty Images

There were reports of fires and gas leaks. Damage was also reported in the colonial city of Puebla. The government said electricity service and phone lines were down in parts of the capital. A civil protection official told local TV news channel that an unspecified number of people were trapped beneath collapsed buildings in Mexico City. Deep cracks appeared in a major highway connecting Cuernavaca to Mexico City. Meanwhile, Mexico City’s international airport said it has suspended operations due to the quake. The airport suspended operations, saying in a tweet post that safety crews are checking the structures for damage.

Emergency workers and ordinary citizens rushed to the site of damaged or collapsed buildings in the capital, lifting rubble with their hands in an attempt to free anyone stuck underneath. Rescue workers cleared rubble by hand and called for silence from the crowd so that they could listen to others who might be trapped.

President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted that he had been flying to Oaxaca to inspect the earthquake damage when the latest quake struck and had immediately returned to Mexico City. In a Twitter post, President said that has ordered the evacuation of hospitals that have suffered damage. He also called a meeting of the National Emergency Committee to assess the situation and co-ordinate relief efforts.

US President Donald Trump tweeted a message of support. “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Photo Courtesy: Twitter