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No deaths in major Mexico earthquake
Mar. 21, 2012

Published by GlobalPost

Not one death has been reported after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico on Tuesday. It was the biggest temblor since the 8.1 magnitude quake in 1985 that killed about 10,000 people and destroyed large parts of Mexico City.

Read more: Earthquake shook Mexico Tuesday

Tuesday's quake, which centered in Guerrero state in the country's west, left hundreds of buildings damaged and caused many to "bounce like trampolines," reports Reuters.

Analysts at the US Geological Survey said the earthquake had the potential to cause up to $100 million worth of damage and kill as many as 100, given the geography of the surroundings.

But it didn't.

About a dozen people were injured, however.

Construction has improved in Mexico in the wake of the 1985 quake. Tougher regulation has meant that buildings are less prone to collapse. That quake — along with many smaller ones since — also destroyed weaker buildings, leaving stronger ones that were able to survive Tuesday's seismic jolt.

While electricity and cell phone coverage went out in parts of Mexico City, some residents were still able to get online and use Twitter, Facebook and social messaging applications to communicate — which helped quell panic.

Mexico City is vulnerable to earthquakes, given its growth from an island in the dried-up bed of Lake Texcoco. The geology of the lakebed makes structures vulnerable to movement and compression, amplifying seismic activity.

The energy dissipated in Tuesday's tremor was less than half that of the 1985 quake, reports BBC Mundo. The Richter scale is exponential and so a single digit rise in magnitude represents a 10-fold increase in the amplitude of the shockwaves.

The capital city remains on alert after a number of potentially dangerous aftershocks Tuesday afternoon.




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© Girish Gupta