Major quake hits southern Mexico, at least five killed

By Julia Love and Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico's Pacific coast on Tuesday, killing at least five people, cutting off isolated villages and damaged buildings hundreds of kilometers away in Mexico City.
The deaths occurred near the epicenter of the quake in Oaxaca, a mountainous state known for its coffee, mescal, and Spanish colonial architecture.
Rockfalls blocked the winding mountain roads between the state capital Oaxaca and the coast. Rescue workers have not reached all of the villages that are reported to have suffered damage, leading to concerns that more people could be injured.
An Oaxaca state official said rescue workers were trying to get to the Santa Catarina Xanaguia settlement near the epicenter, where the quake collapsed houses or parts of the mountain and imprisoned people. People asked for help over the phone, the official added.
A clinic and old churches in mountain villages near the epicenter were badly damaged, as pictures on social media showed.
One of the dead was a worker from the state oil company Pemex who had fallen from a great height. Pemex was forced to temporarily shut down the country's largest oil refinery in Oaxaca.
30-year-old Miguel Candelaria was working on his computer in his family home in the city of Juchitan in Oaxaca when the floor started to shake. He ran outside with relatives, but they had to stop in the middle of the street when the sidewalk buckled and rocked.
"We couldn't walk ... the street was like chewing gum," said Candelaria, 30.
Quakes with a magnitude greater than 7 are severe earthquakes that can cause widespread, serious damage.

Buildings in Mexico City were trembling heavily and people ran onto the street when a seismic early warning alarm sounded.
According to official reports, two people were injured and more than 30 buildings in the capital were damaged, including buildings that were still marked by an earthquake in 2017, in which 355 people died in the capital and surrounding states.
Water from pools or tanks on the roof flowed over residential buildings in the city, and construction workers on the 56th floor of a new residential tower clung to each other as they swayed, as pictures on social media showed.
The ocean receded on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned of a possible tsunami to South America, but later said the danger was over.
According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was on Tuesday 69 km northeast of the city of Pochutla. It was very flat, only 26 km below the surface of the earth, which would have increased the tremors.
Magdalena Castellanos Fermin was in the village of Santiago Astata near the epicenter when the "really intense" quake broke out and large rocks fell from the slope and alarmed the residents, she told Reuters by phone.
Eunice Pineda, a 26-year-old teacher in Juchitan, said the quake was "tortured for two minutes" because she feared her house would collapse.
But residents of one of Mexico's most seismically active regions have learned to "live one day at a time," added Pineda.
"We learn to appreciate, to appreciate every moment," she said.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, Julia Love, Adriana Barrera, Stefanie Eschenbacher, Dave Graham, Daina Beth Solomon, Sharay Angulo, Raul Cortes and Anthony Esposito in Mexico City and Sandra Maler in Washington; writing by Alistair Bell; editing by Rosalba O 'Brien)

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