A rare and powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico late Thursday, killing at least 15 people as seismologists warned of a tsunami of more than 10 feet.
The quake hit offshore in the Pacific about 75 miles southwest of the town of Tres Picos in far southern Chiapas state, the US Geological Survey said, putting the magnitude at 8.1.
Mexico’s president said the earthquake magnitude was 8.2, the strongest in a century in the country.
The country’s seismologic service initially gave a magnitude of 8.4, which if confirmed would be the most powerful ever recorded in this quake-prone country.
The quake shook a large swath of the country and was felt as far north as Mexico City – 600 miles from the quake epicenter – where people ran out of their homes in their pajamas as buildings trembled and swayed.
A tsunami warning and the prospect of aftershocks kept the nation on alert.
“Based on all available data … widespread hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
“Tsunami waves reaching more than three meters above the tide level are possible along the coasts of Mexico,” it said, with lower waves in other countries.
The tsunami warning was for the coasts of Mexico, down through Central America into Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras, and as far south as Ecuador.
The quake was felt in much of Guatemala, which borders Chiapas.
President Enrique Pena Nieto ordered schools to remain closed Friday in Chiapas and Mexico City so officials could inspect for structural damage.
He said on Twitter he was overseeing the emergency response from the National Disaster Prevention Center’s headquarters.
In Mexico City, people ran out of buildings after hearing earthquake warning sirens go off just before midnight (6am UK time Friday).