Skip to main content

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake strikes southern Mexico

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 3:23 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "There was no way not to feel it," a villager says
  • The quake was centered an hour and a half northwest of Acapulco
  • The quake was a shallow 15 miles at the epicenter, the U.S. Geological Survey says
  • A building was damaged in Mexico City, 170 miles from quake's epicenter

(CNN) -- It met the definition of a major one, but the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck Friday in southern Mexico's Guerrero state didn't land the kind of punch that it might have.

"There was no way not to feel it," Gustavo Lozano told CNN about the temblor, which struck at 9:27 a.m. (10:27 a.m. ET) and was centered 22 miles (36 kilometers) north-northwest of Tecpan. He was with his family at their home in Barra de Potosi, a fishing village nearly a three-hour drive northwest of Tecpan, when the earthquake hit. "It was extremely strong."

Afraid of a possible tsunami, and unaware that no advisory had been issued for one, he and his family drove to a shelter at the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport, where dozens of other people also were gathering.

En route, they noticed a few walls from older buildings had collapsed, but nothing worse. Once there, they concluded they needn't have bothered taking shelter. "It seems like the worst has already happened," he said.

The quake's depth at the epicenter was a shallow 15 miles (24 kilometers), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Mexican National Seismological Service measured its depth at 6 miles (10 kilometers) and its magnitude as 7.0.

USGS classifies any quake magnitude 7.0 to 7.9 as "major," and any at 8.0 or more as "great."

The earthquake's timing and location could have proved devastating -- it occurred on the Pacific coast between major resort towns of Acapulco and Zihuatanejo during Holy Week, when Mexicans traditionally flock to the beaches, and resorts typically run at full capacity.

Its impact was also felt in Mexico City, 170 miles (273 kilometers) northeast of the epicenter. "I was working in my radio news program ... and we were talking about (author) Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez's death, when I started to feel how the ground was shaking and the lamps were moving," journalist Sol Rivera said via e-mail.

She urged her listeners to remain calm and to move to a safe space.

Reporters soon called to inform her that everything was OK.

At least one building in the capital was damaged, but there were no reports of major damage, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told CNN affiliate FOROtv.

The city's secretary of civil protection, Fausto Lugo, said electricity failed in some areas and that some people reported being trapped inside elevators, but that there were no reports of injuries.

Tecpan is 54 miles (87 kilometers) northwest of Acapulco, where the city's civil protection office said via Twitter that basic services were operating without reports of damage.

Seated on top of three tectonic plates, Mexico is in one of the most seismically active parts of the world. On September 19, 1985, a magnitude-8.1 earthquake killed an estimated 9,500 people in Mexico City.

What you need to know about earthquakes

Measuring the magnitude of earthquakes

The place where two earthquakes hit every hour

CNN's Elwyn Lopez, Kurt Muller, Jason Hanna and Nelson Quinones contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 8:27 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT