Mexico earthquake death toll rises to 61; hunt for survivors continues

MEXICO CITY – An 8.1 magnitude quake that struck off Mexico’s southern coast the other day has left at least 61 people dead, according to officials.

Rescue efforts following the earthquake, which struck late on Thursday, are focusing on the worst-hit states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

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Another 200 people were injured, President Enrique Peña Nieto said, as he declared a national day of mourning.

Mr. Peña Nieto, who visited the town on Friday, said flags would fly at half-mast on Saturday out of respect for the dead and bereaved.

The president said 45 deaths had been reported in Oaxaca, 12 in Chiapas and four in Tabasco.

Meanwhile, the feared category one Hurricane Katia, which struck Veracruz on the east coast on Saturday, has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

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The US National Hurricane Center reported Katia had been rapidly weakening ever since making landfall, but local officials are worried the storm could still cause landslides and flooding.

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Tens of thousands of emergency packs, as well as 100 extra police officers and rescue dogs were sent to Juchitán, Oaxaca, said to be the worst affected town.

The Thursday’s earthquake is the most powerful anywhere in the world since September 2015, but its depth – 70km according to the US Geological Service – means that the shaking felt at the surface was less strong than it would have been for an equally powerful but shallower tremor.

The earthquake was more powerful than the 1985 tremor which hit close to Mexico City and caused thousands of deaths.