Widespread destruction has been reported in Mexico City after an earthquake registering 7.1 magnitude struck the country just after 1 p.m. local time. The country was still reeling from a stronger 8.2 tremor south of the capital on Sept. 7.
UPDATED: More than 200 people have been killed, with rescue efforts continuing among dozens of collapsed buildings.
Director Guillermo del Toro invited those affected by the earthquake to tweet him and he would retweet requests for aid and those looking for family members. “Anyone in Mexico who needs post urgent messages can do so via my account. Just add @RealGDT and I will support you,” his tweet said.
“I have never felt anything that intense,” said Variety‘s Mexico City correspondent James Young. Multiple buildings have collapsed in the densely populated city, Young reported. The city is in a full state of emergency.
The close proximity of the temblor’s epicenter did not allow the city’s alarm system to activate in time to give residents any warning as the violent shaking began. By comparison there were roughly 40 seconds of sirens blaring ahead of the Sept. 7 quake. Smoke and dust arose at various points across the city, and nervous residents crowded street corners even hours after the earthquake hit, mobile phones in hands, attempting to stay calm and reach loved ones.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake’s epicenter was near the Puebla state town of Raboso, some 76 miles southeast of Mexico City where buildings have collapsed, gas lines have ruptured, power outages are widespread and the city’s chaotic traffic is even worse than normal.
The venerable Churubusco Studios, where hundreds of films have been shot, has suffered some damage: “Some walls of the studio have collapsed and some activities such as premieres have been cancelled,” said Cine Canibal producer Geminiano Pineda.
Univision Sports issued a statement saying that “The Copa MX knockout stage soccer games are postponed until further notice.”
Even an Apple Store was not spared, its glass storefront shattered.
“We are all safe and sound, that’s all that matters,” said Cinepolis spokesperson Ramon Ramirez, who had not yet heard if any of the giant exhibition circuit’s cinemas had been damaged.
“People have been milling around in the streets, afraid to go inside, and cars are driving any which way to get out of the traffic, which is not moving,” said “Made in Bangkok” docu filmmaker Flavio Florencio, who was stuck in traffic himself.
Thanks to social media and WhatsApp, people are staying in touch, and hundreds of pictures and videos of the destruction are circulating.
Tuesday is also the 32nd anniversary of the massive 8.0 earthquake that struck Mexico City in 1985, killing at least 5,000 people.
Close to 100 people died in the recent Sept. 7 earthquake that hit Southern Mexico.
James Young in Mexico City contributed to this report.