Refinery Fire and Falling Debris Hit Mexico After 7.4 Quake

By Amy Stillman and Lorena Rios | June 24, 2020

A 7.4 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Mexico on Tuesday killed at least two people, left others trapped under rubble and caused a fire at the nation’s biggest oil refinery.

The epicenter was near the beach resort of Huatulco in Oaxaca state on the Pacific coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Debris was strewn across some sidewalks in Mexico City, more than 400 miles away, as plaster from building facades crumbled and tiles were shaken loose. Residents in face masks gathered in the streets, the memories of a deadly 2017 earthquake that killed more than 300 still fresh in their minds.

At least fifteen people are trapped in a collapsed building near the epicenter, Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat said in a radio interview.

State-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos shut production at its 330,000 barrels-per-day Salina Cruz refinery in Oaxaca after a fire. A refinery worker was seriously injured during the earthquake and sent to the hospital, according to a spokeswoman who asked not to be identified, citing company policy.

No damage was reported at the Salina Cruz maritime terminal on the west coast, Pemex said.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that so far ports, airports, hydroelectric plants, all are in good condition.

Coronavirus patients remained in their beds as hospital staff evacuated.

“Patients on ventilators or attached to machines are hard to move and at higher risk if we move them, unfortunately,” said David Martinez, a medical resident at Mexico City’s National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, speaking by phone.

Mexico’s stocks and currency pared some gains following the quake but are both higher on the day.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center sent an all-clear in the afternoon, saying the initial tsunami threat has now passed.

Lopez Obrador said communications with Oaxaca hadn’t been reestablished. Internet connectivity was impacted in the capital of Oaxaca, but began recovering soon after the quake, according to

“Buildings were shaking but I tried not to look at them because it causes you to panic,” said Juan Sosa Flores, 61, who was speaking over the wail of ambulance sirens on Paseo de la Reforma, a main street in Mexico City’s financial district. He was on the third floor of a building when the earthquake struck.

About the photo: Medical staff and patients gather outside a hospital during an earthquake in Mexico City on June 23.

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