Strong earthquake shakes Mexico's Pacific coast

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Strong earthquake shakes Mexico's Pacific coast
Civil protection members receive instructions after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait a a street after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers observe a damaged building in Mexico City after an earthquake on May 8, 2014 in Mexico City. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO / Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Civil protection members receive instructions after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather after being evacuated in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait a street after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People try to use their mobiles after being evacuated in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled the city on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. AFP PHOTO / Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman passes by rubbles after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Rubbles are seen in a street after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait at a square after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman is helped after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Civil protection members help a woman on a wheelchair after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Civil protection members help people at a street after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait at a street after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
People comfort each other after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand on the side of the street as police try to reopen the street to cars after an earthquake shook Mexico City, Thursday, May 8, 2014. A strong earthquake in southern Guerrero state shook the southern Pacific coast of Mexico and several states, including the capital. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A woman shows her worry after being evacuated from a building in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. AFP PHOTO / Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Rubbles are seen at a street after a strong earthquake in Mexico City on May 8, 2014. A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway, knocking out power and sending people fleeing into the streets. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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By JOSE ANTONIO RIVERA
Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) -- A strong earthquake shook the southern Pacific coast of Mexico and several states, including the capital on Thursday, sending frightened people into unseasonal torrential rains that were also bearing down on the coast.

The 6.4-magnitude quake in southern Guerrero state had an epicenter about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Tecpan de Galeana, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and was felt about 171 miles (277 kilometers) miles away in Mexico City, where office workers streamed into the streets away from high-rise buildings.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.

Tecpan, near the epicenter, shook ferociously, causing a "wave of panic" and some roofs to cave in, said Mayor Crisoforo Otero Heredia. But there were no injuries.

In Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, a wall collapsed and in Acapulco civil protection crews had found nothing so far except scared citizens who were forced to take refuge in the heavy rain that was hitting the region.

In Mexico City, elegantly dressed businesswoman Carmen Lopez was leaving a downtown office building when the ground began to shake. She dashed across the street to a leafy median as light poles swayed violently above her.

"That was just too scary," said Lopez, as she quickly started dialing her cellphone to alert friends and family.

Behind her, thousands of people poured out from neighboring office buildings, following pre-planned evacuation routes to areas considered safe from any potential of falling glass.

The quake had a depth of 15 miles (23 kilometers). The USGS downgraded the magnitude from 6.8.

A 7.2-magnitude quake with an epicenter about 40 miles (66 kilometers) from Thursday's quake shook central and southern Mexico on April 18.

That quake occurred along a section of the Pacific Coast known as the Guerrero Seismic Gap, a 125-mile (200-kilometer) section where tectonic plates meet and have been locked, meaning huge amounts of energy are being stored up with potentially devastating effects.

In 1911, a magnitude-7.6 temblor struck along the section, according to the USGS.

The USGS says the Guerrero Gap has the potential to produce a quake as strong as magnitude 8.4, potentially much more powerful than the magnitude-8.1 quake that killed 9,500 people and devastated large sections of Mexico City in 1985. The 1985 quake was centered 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the capital on the Pacific Coast.

Mexico City is vulnerable to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds. They jiggle like jelly when the quake waves hit.

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