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Powerful 7.4 earthquake rocks southern Mexico, killing 1

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the southern coast of Oaxaca, Mexico on June 23, 2020
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the southern coast of Oaxaca, Mexico on June 23, 2020 (Image credit: USGS)

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the southern coast of Mexico at 10:29 local time this morning, causing buildings to sway hundreds of miles away in Mexico City and resulting in at least one death, NBC news reported.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was centered near the southern coast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and was felt by an estimated 2 million people. Roughly 200 miles (320 kilometers) away in Mexico City, people fled into the street as buildings swayed, alarms blared and pavement stones moved visibly underfoot. So far, at least one injury and one death have been reported in the coastal city of Huatulco, close to the epicenter.

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The quake emerged from a fault at the edge of the North American plate and the Cocos plate (which runs along much of the West coast of Central America), the USGS reported. This same plate boundary has seen its fair share of powerful quakes over the past century, most recently in 2018 when a magnitude 7.2 quake struck Oaxaca about 140 miles (225 km) north of today's quake, injuring several people and damaging thousands of homes.

"The deadliest nearby earthquake occurred on September 19, 1985, in the Michoacan region" some 430 miles (700 km) northwest of today's quake, the USGS reported. "This M 8.0 earthquake resulted in at least 9,500 fatalities, injured about 30,000 people, and left 100,000 people homeless."

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The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center has issued tsunami threat alerts for the west coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Brandon Specktor
Brandon Specktor writes about the science of everyday life for Live Science, and previously for Reader's Digest magazine, where he served as an editor for five years. He grew up in the Sonoran Desert, but believes Sonoran hot dogs are trying way too hard.