Picture: 123RF/LORENZOT81
Picture: 123RF/LORENZOT81

Mexico City — A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.4 struck the coast of southern Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least one person, buckling paved roads and setting off a tsunami warning along Pacific coastal areas.

One person died in the state of Oaxaca, governor Alejandro Murat said, after the quake hit the Pacific coastal state midmorning.

The country's seismological service said a tsunami on the Oaxaca coast was ongoing, with the sea level having risen 60cm at Huatulco beach, a popular destination for US and Canadian tourists.

Mexico's civil protection agency recommended that residents move away from the coastline. Videos on social media showed the ocean's water receding in Oaxaca, a mountainous state that is also home to coffee plantations and Spanish colonial architecture.

Resident Miguel Candelaria  was working at his computer in his family home in the Oaxaca town of Juchitan when the ground began to tremble. He ran outside with relatives, but they had to stop in the middle of the street as the pavement buckled and rocked.

“We couldn't walk ... the street was like chewing gum,” said Candelaria.

Neighbours screamed and shouted warnings, said Candelaria.

Quakes of magnitudes over 7 are major earthquakes capable of widespread and heavy damage. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck central Mexico in 2017 killed 355 people in the capital and the surrounding states.

Buildings shook in Mexico City, hundreds of miles away.

Helicopters flew low over the Roma and Condesa districts of the capital, apparently looking for damage in streets where many buildings still show the scars of the 2017 quake. The city's public security ministry said a flyover showed “there are no fallen buildings.”

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of Tuesday's quake was located 69km northeast of the town of Pochutla.

It was shallow, only 26km below the earth's surface, which would have amplified the shaking.

Reuters