Central Mexico earthquake kills dozens, topples buildings

(CNN) — Dozens were killed in a powerful earthquake Tuesday that rocked Mexico City and surrounding states. The earthquake toppled buildings, sent rescue workers digging through rubble and knocked out power to millions.

At least 139 people died in the magnitude-7.1 earthquake, officials said.

Forty-two people were killed in Morelos state, according to a preliminary report issued by the governor. President Enrique Peña Nieto said 13 were dead in Puebla state. Two others died in Mexico state.

The government said 3.8 million customers had their electricity service interrupted.

The earthquake struck the central state of Puebla, leveling buildings as far away as the capital, about 75 miles away.

Reuters reported it hit hours after many people took part in drills nationwide on the anniversary of another devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City three decades ago.

Video from CNN affiliate Foro TV showed rescue workers in hard hats and civilians in a Mexico City neighborhood combing through two-story high piles of rubble in search of survivors. Some carried away buckets full of debris.

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.

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

“Anything below 70 kilometers is considered a shallow quake,” CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said. “That’s important, because shallow earthquakes often cause the most damage, compared to the ones that are deeper, regardless of the strength. But this also was a relatively strong earthquake.”

Here are the latest developments:

• Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted “all public and private schools in Mexico City are canceled 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 that there were reports of damaged buildings. Tony Gali urged residents to follow civil protection security protocols.

• Peña Nieto tweeted that he has ordered the evacuation of hospitals that have suffered damage. He also ordered the transfer of patients to other medical units.

• 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 OK.”

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.”

Ricardo Ramos, a TV producer from Los Angeles, was scouting a location in a Mexico City cafe when the quake hit. He ran out into the street.

“Thank you, God, for keeping us safe once again. We got to experience another terrible #earthquake, this time during a location scout,” he wrote on Instagram.

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 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.