A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck southwest Mexico on Saturday morning, not far from where a deadly quake hit roughly two weeks ago, officials said.
The temblor began just before 8 a.m. local time in the state of Oaxaca, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was reported 46 miles northwest of the coastal town of Salina Cruz and 122 miles from the state capital Oaxaca.
Mexico's earthquake monitoring agency reported another two earthquakes — a 5.2 and 5.0 magnitude — struck the Oaxaca area Saturday about half an hour after the initial quake.
No major damage or casualties were immediately reported.
People in Mexico City — about 275 miles away from the epicenter — reported feeling the swaying and believed it was an aftershock, but USGS has not reported any seismic activity in the area near Puebla, where a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck on Tuesday, killing 295 people in the region. Researchers with Caltech's Seismological Laboratory previously told KTLA aftershock from that quake was unlikely due to its great depth.
The director of Mexico's disaster agency told the Associated Press Saturday's quake was actually an aftershock of an 8.1 magnitude temblor that hit off the coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas on Sept. 7, killing about 90 people and rendering many in the region homeless.
— José Luis Montenegro (@montenegrojluis) September 23, 2017
But the potential for devastation remained a possibility in the nation's capital, where buildings are still unstable and residents harrowed by a search and rescue effort that has not paused since Tuesday.
Warning sirens sounded there after the quake was detected, interrupting rescue operations at some of the dozens of buildings that have collapsed.
KTLA's Christina Pascucci, who has been reporting from Mexico City since Wednesday, said she was trying to catch up on sleep Saturday morning when she was shaken awake on the fourth floor of her hotel.
“I was trying to sleep in a little bit and all of a sudden I woke up in grogginess and everything was creaking, swaying, and I could tell it was strong but I was so confused," she said. "I looked out and I saw all the movement outside and I heard the alarms, and my cameraman came and pounded on the door and said, ‘Earthquake, let’s go.’ ”
Both ran downstairs to the street outside, where a large group of people stood assembled, hugging.
“I mean, it was pretty strong," Pascucci said. "Not like anything they experienced on Tuesday, but I’m still shaking.”
“It was big enough for us to know it was big,” she said, but from what she saw not powerful enough knock to people over.
Southeast Mexico has seen a flurry of seismic activity in recent weeks, with USGS reporting more than 4,000 smaller quakes following an 8.1 magnitude temblor that hit Sept. 7, killing about 90 people and rendering many in the region homeless. One hit near Oaxaca on Tuesday, the same day as the larger one that badly damaged Mexico City.
Ken Hudnut, a USGS science adviser for risk reduction at Caltech, has linked the activity to extensional stress in the Cocos tectonic plate, which runs along Mexico's west coast and is creating pressure by moving underneath the continental edge of the North American plate.
The area is also part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that runs along the basin of the Pacific Ocean and is noted for its seismic activity. Yet another earthquake, a magnitude 6.1 off the coast of Japan, was reported in the region on Wednesday.
Anyone interested in donating to the victims of the Mexican earthquakes can visit preparesocal.org
Tres eventos relevantes con epicentro en Oaxaca:
Sismo M 6.1 a las 7:52 AM
Sismo M 5.2 a las 8:24 AM
Sismo M 5.0 a las 8:25 AM
— Sismológico Nacional (@SSNMexico) September 23, 2017