Mexico earthquake 2012: Acapulco, Mexico City feel 'strong, long quake'

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(Photo: Associated Press)

(AP, ABC7) - A strong 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit southern Mexico on Tuesday, damaging some 800 homes near the epicenter and swaying tall buildings and spreading fear and panic hundreds of miles away in the capital of Mexico City.

One of the strongest to shake Mexico since the deadly 1985 temblor that killed thousands in Mexico City, Tuesday's earthquake hit hardest in border area of southern Oaxaca and Guerrero states, where Guerrero official confirmed that some 800 homes had been damaged, with another 60 having collapsed.

Hours after the shaking at noon local time, there were still no reports of death or serious injury, even after a less powerful, magnitude-5.1 aftershock was felt in the capital and several other aftershocks near the epicenter in a mountainous rural region.

"It was very strong, very substantial," said Campos Benitez, hospital director in Ometepec, about 15 miles from the epicenter.

Locals seek answers

La Placido Restaurant in Hyattsville is in a part of Prince George's County with a lot of immigrants from Mexico. Many have been trying to see if their relatives are okay.

Angelica Lopez of Bladensburg couldn't get through to her relatives for hours but eventually found out they were okay.

"They tried to talk, they tried to communicate - but it's very hard," Lopez says.

At the Mexican Embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue, Ricardo Alday says they've been getting a ton of calls from D.C. Area Mexican-Americans who couldn't reach loved ones.

"The friends, the family, the relatives in Mexico,” Alday says. “We just try to provide them with as much comfort as we can."

Embassy officials say this region has more several hundred thousand Mexican-Americans. Although many have had trouble contacting relatives, many are also relieved, realizing the damage isn't nearly as bad as it could have been for a 7.4 magnitude quake.

Officials assess damage

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre, who is from Ometepec, was headed there to survey the damage and ordered emergency crews and civil protection to the area to help with the damage.

The state did not say how many were displaced. In Mexico City, frightened workers and residents poured into the streets of the capital.

Telephone service was down in the city and throughout the area where the quake was felt and some neighborhoods were without power, according to Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who set up a hotline for people to report damage.

A pedestrian bridge collapsed on an empty transit bus. About 40 passengers were stranded for a short time on the Mexico City airport air train, but later released.

The airport closed for a time but officials said there was no runway damage and they resumed operations. Samantha Rodriguez, a 37-year old environmental consultant, was evacuated from the 11th floor on the Angel Tower office building.

"I thought it was going to pass rapidly but the walls began to thunder and we decided to get out," she said. Mexico City, built on a lakebed, was badly damaged in 1985 when an 8.0 earthquake killed at least 10,000 people.

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