A woman is carried on a stretcher after being pulled out of the rubble following a quake in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo)
Mexico City: A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 217 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.
Scores of buildings collapsed into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 44 buildings collapsed in the capital alone.
Mancera said at least 30 had died in Mexico City, and officials in Morelos, just to the south, said 54 had died there.
At least 11 others died in Puebla state, according to Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for the state's Interior Department.
Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said at least nine had died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital.
"I'm so worried. I can't stop crying. It's the same nightmare as in 1985," one resident in a plaza in the capital, Georgina Sanchez, 52, sobbed to AFP.
"We ran outside thinking all was going to collapse around us," said Lazaro Frutis, a 45-year-old who escaped an office building before it crumpled to the ground. "The worst thing is, we don't know about our families or anything."
The quake - which occurred in the early afternoon, hours after city authorities had conducted an earthquake drill - caused most of its damage in the center and south of the sprawling city.
Several buildings were reduced to debris and cars were flattened by falling stonework.
Scenes of chaos permeated the city, with traffic jammed to a standstill and anxious people running between the vehicles, as ambulances tried to make headway, sirens squealing.
Emergency officials warned people in the streets to avoid smoking because of the risk of igniting gas leaking from ruptured pipes.