Major 6.5 Quake Hits Southern Mexico

A huge temblor strikes near Oaxaca early Wednesday, shaking buildings 220 miles away in Mexico City. People in the capital flee into the streets in their pajamas.

June 30, 2010
MSNBC and news service reports

MEXICO CITY — A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico early Wednesday, shaking buildings in Mexico City 220 miles away where people fled into the streets in their pajamas.

The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 2:22 a.m. local time (3:22 a.m. ET), was 75 miles west-southwest of Oaxaca City, Mexico, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Civil protection officials in the city had no initial reports of casualties, although a photograph taken by the european pressphoto agency showed a collapsed building in the area.

"It felt strong, especially near the coast. It woke me up, I was scared too," said Oaxaca civil protection official Gilberto Mateo. "For now we haven't had reports of damage, we are checking communities."

Guests at a hotel 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.

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

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.

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.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for more updates.

Reuters contributed to this report.