MEXICO CITY – A massive 8-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of southern Mexico late Thursday night, causing buildings to sway violently and people to flee into the street in panic as far away as the capital city.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.0 and its epicenter was 165 kilometers (102 miles) west of Tapachula in southern Chiapas state not far from Guatemala. It had a depth of 35 kilometers.
The U.S. Tsunami Warning System said the earthquake was a potential tsunami threat to several Central American countries, including the Pacific coastlines of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It said the threat was still being evaluated for Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific islands.
Even in distant Mexico City the quake was felt so strongly that frightened residents gathered in the streets in the dark, often in their pajamas, fearing that buildings would collapse.