At least 30 dead as Mexico rocked by strongest quake in 100 years (VIDEOS & PICS)

MEXICO CITY – A rare and powerful 8.4-magnitude earthquake described by Mexico’s president as the country’s strongest in a century struck southern Mexico late Thursday, killing at least 30 people as seismologists warned of a tsunami of more than three metres.

The quake, which President Enrique Peña Nieto said measured 8.2, struck in the Pacific, about 87km (54 miles) south-west of Pijijiapan.

A tsunami warning was issued for Mexico, with three-meter-high waves possible, and other nearby countries.

Severe damage has been reported in Oaxaca and Chiapas states.

Chiapas is the southernmost state, along the Guatemalan border. It’s a very mountainous, remote area, where 25% of the population belongs to indigenous groups. It’s also much visited by tourists seeking to explore some of the best and most well-preserved archaeological treasures, such as the ancient Mayan city of Palenque.

Among the deaths were at least four in Chiapas. Two children were killed in Tabasco state, one a baby who died when power was cut to a respirator.

One person also died in Guatemala, its president has said.

Ten people are reported dead in Mexico’s Oaxaca state.

The quake shook a large swath of the country and was felt as far north as Mexico City — 1,000 km from the quake epicenter — where people ran out of their homes in their pajamas as buildings trembled and swayed.

The tsunami warning was for the coasts of Mexico, down through Central America into Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras, and as far south as Ecuador.

The quake was felt in much of Guatemala, which borders Chiapas.

President Enrique Pena Nieto ordered schools to remain closed Friday in Chiapas and Mexico City so officials could inspect for structural damage.

He said on Twitter he was overseeing the emergency response from the National Disaster Prevention Center’s headquarters.

The earthquake has brought back memories of the tremor of 1985, which left massive destruction in Mexico City and a death toll of 10,000.

It is the strongest to hit quake-prone Mexico at least since 1985, when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Mexico City killed more than 10,000 people.

Mexico sits atop five tectonic plates, whose movement makes it one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.