A high magnitude earthquake which hit Mexico has claimed the lives of 224 people, including 21 children and causing an extensive damage.
Part of the affected areas
At least 226 people are dead after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked central Mexico Tuesday afternoon, hitting on the 32nd anniversary of the biggest earthquake to ever strike the country's capital. More than half of the fatalities are in Mexico City, the country's civil defense agency said.
The earthquake caused extensive damage to Mexico City, leveling at least 27 buildings, including homes, schools and office buildings, according to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who did a flyover of the city Tuesday afternoon. At least two children were trapped under rubble at the entrance of a school in Mexico City, according to local reports. Neighbors and volunteers were working to free them.
Meanwhile, the city's airport descended into chaos as the ground rippled and chunks of plaster fell from the walls, Dallas resident George Smallwood told ABC News. “I felt the ground shaking, and I heard everyone screaming and starting to run,” he said, adding that at first, he thought he was in the middle of a terror attack.
Smallwood had stopped in Mexico City for a long layover after a vacation in Medellin, Colombia, and had spent the day exploring the capital. He was getting ready to go through security at Mexico City International Airport for his 3:35 p.m. flight back to Dallas when the earthquake hit.
Parts of the ceiling were "swinging back and forth," he said, and the panicked crowd took off "running in every different direction."
The tremors lasted for about six to seven minutes, he estimated. Once the shaking subsided, first responders swooped in to help the injured and a fleet of military and police helicopters buzzed overhead, he said.
Smallwood’s flight was rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, so he will need to find somewhere to stay for the night, he said. Tuesday's earthquake -- which hit at about 2:14 p.m. ET near the town of Raboso in Puebla state, according to the United States Geological Survey -- comes 11 days after an 8.1 magnitude quake struck off Mexico's southern Pacific coast, killing dozens of people.
The deaths occurred in Mexico City, and the states of Morelos, Puebla and Mexico, said Carlos Valdes, director of Mexico's National Center for Prevention of Disasters. Preliminary numbers show about 3.8 million customers are without power, Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission said.
Thousands of people on the capital's main boulevard streamed out of buildings and into the street in panic after the quake struck.
"I was just paying at the supermarket and suddenly the floor went ‘boom boom,’" Mexico City resident Lara Rodriguez told ABC News on Tuesday. "People were obviously panicking."
Rodriguez added, "So I rushed out and I went to get my kid from school to make sure he was okay. Luckily everything was fine, but on the way there was a lot of debris. There were clouds of sort of dust flowing up as if a bomb had hit or something."