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Magnitude-7.2 earthquake strikes southern Mexico

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 3:23 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
  • "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.

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