(OPINION) BIN – A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit off the Pacific coast of Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca at 10:29 AM local time on Tuesday, killing at least five people and generating small tsunamis. Several hospitals that were busy treating COVID-19 patients were damaged in the quake and many patients had to be evacuated. Power outages also were reported.
More than 140 aftershocks, most of them small, were recorded. Pemex, Mexico’s state-run oil company, said the quake caused a fire at its refinery in the city of Salina Cruz, relatively near the epicenter. It said one worker was injured and the flames were quickly extinguished. The USGS said that recent earthquakes in the area have caused secondary hazards such as tsunamis and landslides.
Tsunami waves of 2.2 feet were observed in Acapulco and 2.3 feet in Salina Cru. An earlier tsunami warning was revised down, according to the US Tsunami Warning System, forecasting possible waves of up to 3.3 feet. The country’s seismological service said the sea level rose 2 feet at Huatulco beach, in Oaxaca.
In 2017, two powerful earthquakes hit the country in two weeks, killing 355 people. Mexico’s Pacific coast is located along the volatile “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines around the ocean., there has been at least seven magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes in this region of Mexico in the past 35 years, killing around 10,000 people, most of them in a 1985 8.0 quake. Mexico City is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because its very soft and wet ground amplifies shaking and is prone to liquefaction, in which dirt transforms into a dense liquid when sufficiently churned. READ MORE