15 dead in Mexico after biggest earthquake in a century

The biggest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century struck early Friday, killing at least 15 people and triggering small tsunamis.

The quake, which hit at 12:49 a.m. ET Friday, measured an 8.2 on the Richter scale, according to Mexican President Ernesto Peña Nieto. It was centered in the Pacific, about 87 km (54 miles) southwest of Pijijiapan in the southern state of Chiapas.

Its tremors lasted up to a minute and were felt by 50 million people across Mexico, according to Peña Nieto, including 1,000 km away in Mexico City where they shattered windows and shook buildings. One person was also killed in neighboring Guatemala.

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Severe damage was reported across southern Mexico, particularly Oaxaca state, and western Guatemala, but the region was spared complete catastrophic destruction and there were no reports of widespread casualties. Four people were killed in Chiapas state and two in neighboring Tabasco state, both children, authorities said, as they warned that casualties could rise as rescue teams work to clear badly affected areas.

Nearly 2 million homes lost electricity as a result, although three-quarters have had service restored.

The quake triggered waves as high as 3 feet (1 meter), according to the National Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and caused the sea to retreat 50 meters in places, prompting evacuations in Chiapas state.

The earthquake struck as Hurricane Katia is threatening Mexico’s eastern coast.

A similar-strength quake that hit the country in 1985 proved far more deadly, causing thousands of deaths and toppling hundreds of buildings in the Mexico City area.