UPDATE 1 – Powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hits southern Mexico

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 has struck southern Mexico, with strong shaking felt as far away as the capital, seismologists say. Only few details were immediately available.

The earthquake, which struck at 5:39 p.m. local time on Friday, was centered near the town of San Lorenzo in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The epicenter is about 108 kilometers (67 miles) southwest of the city of Oaxaca.

Both Mexico’s seismological agency and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude at 7.2, down from an initial estimate of 7.2. The USGS said the tremor struck at a depth of 24 kilometers (15 miles), making it a shallow earthquake.

A number of buildings were damaged in Oaxaca, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties, according to Luis Felipe Puente, the national coordinator of the Civil Protection agency. Strong shaking was felt as far away as Mexico City, where buildings were evacuated.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there is no threat of a tsunami.

Computer models from the USGS estimated that as many as 73 million people across the region may have felt the earthquake, including 455,000 people who may have experienced “strong” to “very strong” shaking.

“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction,” the USGS said in its assessment. “Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized.”

Mexico sits on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin which is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico in September 2017, causing widespread damage and killing at least 370 people.

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