On Tuesday, a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico City, sending thousands of people fleeing from buildings as they collapsed around them.
The earthquake’s epicenter, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was located 76 miles southeast of Mexico City in the state of Puebla and hit just after 1 p.m. local time. Flights in and out of the capital city were immediately rerouted as emergency crews hit the streets to help any victims. Dozens have been reported killed throughout the country in the quake, The New York Times reported, however the death toll is expected to be much higher.
“Only people on the first and second floor were able to escape when the building collapsed,” Angela Cota, an administrative secretary working in a building located in Roma Norte, told The New York Times.
As The New York Times reported, Tuesday’s quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 quake that killed as many as 10,000 people in Mexico.
The area has been hard hit by natural disasters in recent weeks, with this quake coming just two weeks after an 8.1-magnitude quake hit the exact same region and killed at least 90 people. That quake, The New York Times noted, was the strongest quake to hit Mexico in more than a century.
While the cause of this quake is unknown, Susan Hough, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist, told the Los Angeles Times that it was likely related to the 8.1 quake.
“An 8.1 is big enough that having an aftershock this big and this distant — it isn’t too surprising,” Hough told the Times. “It’s unusual, but it fits in with the picture that we’ve grown to understand.”
“This is the worst one I have ever felt,” shopkeeper Beatriz Aguilar Bustamante said. “I don’t know if I will have a house when I go home.”
Rescuers, the Times reported, cleared rubble by hand, and asked for silence from their co-workers and the crowd so “they could listen for cries for help.”
Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced in a series of tweets he has already called the national emergency committee to assess the situation and coordinate actions. He asked residents to stay calm and stay safe while attempting to return to their homes.