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Central Mexico earthquake kills more than 100 people, topples buildings

[Breaking news update – 6:12 p.m.]  

The death toll from a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that hit central Mexico has risen to 139.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said at least 30 people have died in Mexico City, and officials in Morelos state, 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.

The death toll number is expected to rise.

[Previous  version – 5:36 p.m.]

Mexico’s federal government said the earthquake death toll has risen to 79.

The announcement posted on Twitter did not break down the locations of the deaths but said they included Mexico City and the states of Morelos, Puebla and Mexico.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 76 miles (123 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.

[Original version]

A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck the central Mexican state of Puebla on Tuesday afternoon, leveling buildings as far away as the capital, about 75 miles away.

Preliminary reports put the epicenter 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 34.1 miles (55 km) south-southwest of the city of Puebla, according to the US Geological Survey.

Pictures on social media and witness accounts confirmed the quake collapsed buildings.

The earthquake struck at a depth of about 33 miles (51 km).

Here are the latest developments:

• Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted “all public and private schools in Mexico City are cancelled until further notice.” He said schools in the states of Puebla and Guerrero also are closed until further notice.

• The airport in Mexico City is closed. According to the airport’s Twitter account, “Operations are suspended until every infrastructure is assessed.”

• The governor of Puebla said on Twitter there were reports of damaged buildings. Tony Gali urged residents to follow civil protection security protocols.

• US President Donald Trump tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Photographer: Moment turns to terror

Adrian Wilson, a photographer from New York City who was visiting his fiancee, was eating in the capital when the earthquake struck.

“I was having lunch when the floor gently rocked as if a big truck went by,” Wilson said. “It then amplified in waves, and the whole room started shaking. The building is from the 1930s and just survived a big earthquake, so I knew I would be okay.”

Wilson told CNN: “The doors were flapping open, the windows, everything.”

He took a quick video to show his children, he said.

“It’s almost a roller coaster ride, where you think, wow, this is kind of cool. But, then all of a sudden, you’re like this isn’t cool at all,” he said.

He looked outside and saw helicopters, and burning buildings and collapsed buildings.

“Then you realize… this is no joy ride for anybody,” he said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted “I have called a meeting for the National Emergency Committee to evaluate the situation and to coordinate any actions. Plan MX has been activated.”

The leader said he was “on (a) flight to Oaxaca. I immediately will return to Mexico City to address the situation caused by the earthquake.”

The earthquake comes 32 years after a magnitude-8.0 earthquake hit on September 19, 1985, killing an estimated 9,500 people in and around Mexico City.

It comes more one week after a magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck off the southern coast of the country, killing at least 90.