Death toll in Mexico's biggest quake continues to rise

Death toll in Mexico's biggest quake continues to rise

The death toll from Thursday's 8.1-magnitude natural disaster off the coast of southern Mexico rose to 61 Saturday as emergency responders worked to clear debris, restore power and provide housing for thousands of displaced people in one of the country's poorest and most remote regions.

Late on Saturday, authorities in the southern state of Oaxaca said there were 71 confirmed fatalities there, many of them in the town of Juchitan, where the rush to bury victims crowded a local cemetery on Saturday.

"It's 71 (dead). Just for Oaxaca", said Jesus Gonzalez, a spokesman for the state civil protection authority, reported Reuters.

In Tabasco state, two children were among the dead, officials said.

Mexico has also had to contend with the approach of Hurricane Katia.

In Juchitan, shocked residents stepped through the rubble of dozens of collapsed buildings.

John Bellini, a geophysicist at the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre in Golden, Colorado, said Thursday's quake was the strongest in Mexico since a magnitude-8.1 quake struck the western state of Jalisco in 1932.

Many spent the night sleeping outside out of fear of aftershocks. Hundreds and thousands of Mexicans were temporarily left without electricity or water, and many in the south were evacuated from coastal dwellings when the quake sparked tsunami warnings. CNN reported that 23 people died in Oaxaca, two in Chiapas and two more in Tabasco.

Mexico's seismology service estimated it at 8.2 magnitude while the US Geological Survey put it at 8.1 - the same as in 1985, the quake-prone country's most destructive ever.

The quake triggered tsunami waves as high as 10 feet, the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Strong aftershocks continue to rattle the town, including a magnitude 5.2 jolt in the early morning. "Homes, schools and hospitals have been damaged".

The epicentre of Thursday's quake was in the Pacific Ocean, about 100km off the town of Tonala in Chiapas. It had a depth of 35 kilometers.

Shockwaves were felt in Mexico City, with buildings losing power and people running into the darkened streets in their nightwear shortly before midnight local time.