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The Official Earthquake Thread in the Diner

7.4 quake apparently spares lives in Mexico

March 22, 2012

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A powerful earthquake that shook Mexico from its massive capital to its resort-studded southern coast damaged hundreds of homes and sent thousands of panicked people fleeing from swaying office buildings, yet apparently didn't cause a single death.

As of early Wednesday, there were still no reports of deaths from Tuesday's magnitude-7.4 quake centered near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, even after 10 aftershocks.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday about 300,000 people in the south side of the capital were without water after the quake damaged two aqueducts. He said two people were reported injured, including the driver of an empty bus crashed under a collapsed pedestrian bridge.

Nine other people were injured in Oaxaca state, according to the federal government.

Seismologists and civil protection officials said where the earthquake hit and how it hit appear to have limited the damage, along with improved construction in the capital following a massive 1985 quake.

In Guerrero, home to Acapulco where little damage was reported, officials say about 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed. In three villages near the epicenter classes were suspended indefinitely.

"It hasn't stopped shaking here and the truth is that we had to suspend classes because people are really afraid of what can happen to their children," said Guerrero state Education Secretary Silvia Romero told the daily Milenio newspaper.

In the town of San Juan Cacahuatepec, in Oaxaca state, frightened residents spent the night outside their homes and woke up early Wednesday to clean up fallen roof tiles and pieces of brick fences from around their houses.

No buildings were reported to have collapsed in Oaxaca, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar.

Authorities said the absence of tall buildings in the mountainous rural area is one reason for the lack of casualties.

"Another factor to consider is how tested an area has been," said USGS seismologist Susan Hoover.

There have been 15 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or stronger since 1973 within 310 miles (500 kilometers) of Tuesday's quake. Weaker buildings collapse with each quake, leaving a cadre of stronger ones that can withstand the shaking.

The quake's epicenter was 200 miles (320 kilometers) south-southeast of Mexico City. Despite the distance, it was felt powerfully in the capital where office towers swayed violently and the streets filled with people fleeing buildings. Some people sat on curbs, head in their hands, to calm themselves.

Mexico City was badly damaged in 1985 when a magnitude-8.0 earthquake killed at least 10,000 people. But experts say Tuesday's quake was smaller and released far less energy.

Mexico City was built on an ancient lakebed and its spongy soil amplifies seismic waves, and the damage they cause. The 1985 quake destroyed 400 buildings and damaged thousands more.

The latest jolt "wouldn't have been nearly as effective at generating those deep bass tones" that caused the damage seen in 1985, USGS seismologist Susan Hough said in an email.

Victor Hugo Espindola Castro of Mexico's national seismological service said another factor was improved building standards following the 1985 quake.

"Many of the buildings that were damaged in 1985 were poorly constructed and from that came the new building regulations, so that now buildings are stronger," he said.

In Mexico City, telephone service was down and some neighborhoods were without power, according to Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who set up a hotline for people to report damage.

A pedestrian bridge collapsed on an empty transit bus.

About 40 passengers were stranded for a short time on the Mexico City airport air train, but later released. The airport closed briefly but officials said there was no runway damage and they resumed operations.

In the working-class neighborhood of Guerrero, pieces of concrete and plaster fell off some buildings and others had fresh cracks.

"I thought I was having a stroke at first. The earth danced. It was strong," said 42-year-old homemaker Marianela Jimenez. "But it looks like it will end up being some dust and a bad scare."

Groups of women hugged and cried at Mexico City's Angel of Independence monument, where hundreds of people evacuated from office buildings said they never had felt such a strong earthquake.

Samantha Rodriguez, a 37-year old environmental consultant, was evacuated from the 11th floor on the Angel Tower office building.

"I thought it was going to pass rapidly but the walls began to thunder and we decided to get out," she said.

Tuesday's quake was the strongest shaking felt in the capital since a magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck also in Guerrero state in December. A magnitude-8.0 quake near Manzanillo on Mexico's central Pacific coast killed 51 people in 1995 and a magintude-7.5 quake killed at least 20 people in the southern state of Oaxaca in 1999.

In Guerrero, Tuesday's quake was powerful and people feared that remote villages would be damaged.

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre went to survey the damage and ordered emergency crews and civil protection to the area to help. The state did not say how many were displaced.

In Huajuapan, Guerrero, near the epicenter, hotel manager Marco Antonio Estrada also reported shaken-up guests but no major damage. He said it was longest and strongest he ever felt. People ran out of their homes and cars.

"It was very strong, but we didn't see anything fall," said Irma Ortiz, who runs a guesthouse in Oaxaca. She said their telephones are down, and that the quake shook them side-to-side.

U.S. President Barack Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, was reported safe while on vacation with a school group in Oaxaca.

In Oaxaca, Sylvia Valencia was teaching Spanish to five adult students at the Vinigulaza language school when the earthquake hit.

"Some of us sat down, others ran out," she said. "It was hard, it was strong and it was long."

March 22, 2012 – GOROKA, Papua New Guinea — A strong earthquake struck the island of New Guinea in Papua New Guinea on early Thursday morning, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The 6.6-magnitude earthquake at 8:15 a.m. local time (2215 GMT Wednesday) was centered about 63 kilometers (39 miles) east-southeast of Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province in the Oceanian country. It struck about 105.9 kilometers (65.8 miles) deep, making it an earthquake with intermediate depth, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the region, but the USGS estimated that approximately 147,000 people near the epicenter may have felt ‘strong’ shaking which could result in light to moderate damage. Another 3.5 million people may have felt light to moderate shaking. Because the earthquake struck fairly deep and on land, no tsunami warnings were issued. “A destructive tsunami was not generated based on earthquake and historical tsunami data,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. Earthquakes in the mountainous nation of Papua New Guinea, which is on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, do rarely cause damage or casualties as most structures in the region are light and flexible. This allows them to bend, rather than snap when a major earthquake happens. In December 2011, a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Wau in Morobe province. The earthquake was felt as far away as the capital Port Moresby, about 221 kilometers (137 miles) south-southeast of the epicenter, but there were no reports of damage or casualties. In July 1998, a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck just off the north coast of the country’s island of New Guinea, causing a landslide which resulted in a local tsunami. The disaster left at least 2,183 people killed and thousands more injured.

Tsunami warning after Indonesia quake

By Sarah Mishkin in Hong Kong, Taufan Hidayat in Jakarta, James Fontanella-Khan in New Delhi

Indonesia has issued a tsunami warning after an 8.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, causing panic in the western region of Aceh.
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert was in effect after a quake that the US Geological Survey said hit 434km south-west of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province.

The USGS said the quake hit at 2.38pm local time, and that the epicentre struck at a depth of 22.9km. It initially recorded the earthquake as 8.9 magnitude, but was later downgraded to 8.6.
Indonesian television was reporting no immediate damage as a result of the quake, but the province had been devastated by a 2004 tsunami that left 170,000 dead or missing, and that in total killed about 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean nations. That tsunami was triggered by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the day after Christmas.

In January this year, the area was hit by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake that prompted a tsunami warning. No damage was reported, and authorities lifted the warning within two hours. The world donated billions of dollars to help rebuild devastated areas, with significant resources being devoted to building earthquake and tsunami defences to mitigate the impact of any similar tragedy. There have been several deadly quakes with a magnitude of greater than 7 since the 2004 disaster.

Reuters reported that Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency was sending a rescue team to Aceh.
“Electricity is down, there’s traffic jams to access higher ground. Sirens and Koran recitals from mosques are everywhere,” Reuters cited a spokesman for the agency as saying.

Prih Harjadi, Indonesia’s deputy director for geophysics at the meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency said on local television that the potential of the tsunami was “very high”, saying a 6m wave could hit the Simeulue island, the closest land area to the epicentre, 30 minutes after the quake hit. He urged the people to leave the coastal areas in north-western Sumatra.

The tremors were felt as far away as Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s financial centre, where a number of high-rise office buildings were briefly evacuated before people returned to work.

A strong tremor was felt along the Indian coast. Scores of people in Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, left their buildings and assembled along the busy roads.
India’s tsunami warning centre said it expected waves measuring up to 6m tall to hit parts of the country’s eastern coast, which was also heavily affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest IT outsourcing group by revenues, said it had sent home about 40,000 people working in the eastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

“As a measure of extreme caution, we have evacuated all our employees from two of our large facilities around Chennai,” TCS said in a statement.

A milder shock hit India’s major metro areas, including the capital New Delhi and Mumbai, the financial hub, and Bangalore, the nation’s IT centre.

More than 12,000 people died in India due to the 2004 tsunami, according to government estimates.

Additional reporting by John Aglionby in London

8.6 is a biggy.

We have an Earthquake thread, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On".  I will be merging this thread into that one.



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