Mexico: 7.2 magnitude natural disaster leaves 12 dead; interior minister survives helicopter crash

Dozens of people stand in a street looking upwards

A prolonged 7.2 magnitude quake that rocked Mexico on Friday left almost a million homes and businesses without power in the capital and south but the only reported deaths came when a military helicopter crashed after surveying the aftermath.

The Interior Department said in a statement that 50 homes suffered significant structural damage in Santiago Jamiltepec, Oaxaca state, along with other damage to the city hall and main church.

In the case of this magnitude 7.2 Mexico natural disaster, while the epicenter is firmly within the parametric trigger zone and at 24 kilometres deep it meets the depth parameter easily, it looks like it is not a high enough magnitude to trigger the notes at this specific location.

In front of the TV channel, Alfonso Navarre said the helicopter pilot had lost control over the machine about 40 m from the ground.

Around 1 million households suffered temporary power outages following the quake.

Mexico City's Civil Protection said no damage was reported.

Additional information was not immediately available.

On September 7 a year ago, an 8.2 natural disaster shook the nation and killed 96 people, mostly in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

A strong natural disaster shook southern and central Mexico Friday, causing panic less than six months after two devastating quakes that killed hundreds of people.

Two diners sit outside a restaurant on Reforma Avenue after a 7.2-magnitude natural disaster shook Mexico City, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.

In Mexico City, tall buildings swayed for more than a minute as seismic alarms sounded, with older structures in the chic Condesa neighborhood knocking into each other, and some cracks appearing in plaster and paintwork.

Tremors were felt as far away as Guatemala to the south.

The National Seismology Service said the epicentre was about 145km from the Pacific coast surfer resort Puerto Escondido and the sustained shaking gave way to 194 aftershocks.

Both Navarrete and the defense department said they regretted the loss of life in Friday's accident. A 5.9-magnitude aftershock hit almost an hour later.

Last September, two devastating earthquakes in Mexico killed hundreds of people.

Patients from a nearby hospital were forced outside, some in wheelchairs or carting their IV lines.

President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted that the National Emergency Committee had been activated because of the magnitude of the quake.

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