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Major Earthquake Jolts Central Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -

A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico on Tuesday, cracking building facades and scattering rubble on streets in the capital on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake.

At least 119 people are dead following the earthquake as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust and thousands fled into the streets.

Morelos Gov. Graco Ramirez said 42 died in his central Mexican state, with 12 dead in Jojutla and four in the state capital of Cuernavaca.

Gov. Alfredo del Mazo told the Televisa news network that two people died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital. He said a quarry worker was killed when the quake unleashed a rockslide and another person was killed by a falling lamppost.

At least 11 others died in Puebla, according to Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for the state's Interior Department.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City. 

Puebla Gov. Tony Galil tweeted that there had been damaged buildings in the city of Cholula including collapsed church steeples.

In Mexico City, thousands of people fled office buildings and hugged to calm each other along the central Reforma Avenue as alarms blared, and traffic stopped around the Angel of Independence monument.  

In the Roma neighborhood, which was struck hard by the 1985 quake, piles of stucco and brick fallen from building facades littered the streets. Two men calmed a woman seated on a stool in the street, blood trickling form a small wound on her knee.

At a nearby market, a worker in a hardhat walked around the outside warning people not to smoke as a smell of gas filled the air.

Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, said she was in a taxi a few blocks away when the quake struck. She said she saw glass bursting out of the windows of some buildings. She was anxiously trying to locate her children, whom she had left in the care of her disabled mother.

Pictures fell from office building walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over. Some people dove for cover under desks. Local media broadcast video of whitecap waves churning the city's normally placid canals of Xochimilco as boats bobbed up and down. 

Video on social media showed a home shaking as objects were tossed around inside.

Another video showed debris falling from Mexico City's National Employment Service building. Residents can be heard screaming and crying as some ran away from the building.Earlier in the day workplaces across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, a magnitude 8.1 shake, which killed thousands of people and devastated large parts of Mexico City. 

President Trump tweeted his support for Mexico on Tuesday afternoon: "God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you."

Earlier in the day, workplaces across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, a magnitude 8.1 shake, which killed thousands of people and devastated large parts of Mexico City. 

Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away. 

"Aftershocks are definitely a problem because Mexico city itself is based on a lake, parts of Mexico City are sinking, therefore it doesn't take much to cause buildings to fall and ruin a heavily populated area," Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, told CBSN.

The city's international airport suspended operations Tuesday, tweeting that airport personnel are checking the structures for damage. It's not immediately clear how many flights have been affected.

Earlier this month, dozens were killed after another earthquake struck, off Mexico's southern coast. It toppled hundreds of buildings, triggering tsunami evacuations and sending panicked people fleeing into the streets in the middle of the night.

Don Blakeman, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, said on CBSN that Mexico is very seismically active and the two earthquakes aren't necessarily related. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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