mexico earthquake
People clear rubble after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017.Reuters

At least 248 people were killed after a strong earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck central Mexico on Tuesday.

Mexico rocked by strongest earthquake in 100 years, at least 60 killed [VIDEO]

The powerful quake that toppled many buildings with thousands of people running into the streets in panic occurred on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake. It also comes a fortnight after the powerful 8.0 quake that killed at least 98 people.

The earthquake's epicenter was located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla.

Death toll to rise

According to the head of the nation's civil protection agency, Luis Felipe Puente, Morelos state in the south of Mexico City has recorded the highest death toll of 64, followed by 36 in Mexico City, nine in the neighbouring state and 29 in the state of Puebla.

Puente has said that the death toll could increase.

Rescuers scouring through the debris have taken up shovels and sledgehammers to pull out the survivors and the dead.

"We have some buildings where we have reports that there could be people inside. They are doing it with lots of caution," an interior secretary was quoted as saying by Reuters. The secretary added that more rescue personnel would be needed.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera has said that 44 buildings have been severely damaged including apartment blocks, a school, a factory and a supermarket.

Several major gas leaks and fires have also been reported.

The national electricity company, Comisión Federal de Electricidad, said that the power supply of 3.8 million customers has been cut in order to avoid casualties.

  • mexico earthquake
    Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers remove rubble and debris from a flattened building in search of survivors after a powerful quake in Mexico City on September 19, 2017.Reuters
  • Mexico earthquake
    A damaged building is seen after an earthquake in Mexico City.Reuters
  • Mexico earthquake

Those who have survived the quake have joined hands with the rescuers to help search for injured.

Mexico City and its surrounding area are home to about 20 million people.

This is the second earthquake that has struck Mexico in September. The first earthquake that killed at least 98 people on September 7 had occurred off the coast of Mexico.

Devastated citizens

The residents of Mexico are frantically searching for their family and friends.

"My wife is there. I haven't been able to communicate with her. She is not answering, and now they are telling us we have to turn off our cell phones because there is a gas leak," an inconsolable Juan Jesus Garcia was quoted by the Reuters.

"We ran outside thinking all was going to collapse around us. The worst thing is, we don't know about our families or anything," recalled another eyewitness, Lazaro Frutis. The 45-year-old escaped an office building before it crumbled to the ground. 

The calamity had hit Mexico hours after city authorities had conducted an earthquake drill.

  • Mexico earthquake
    A woman reacts after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017.Reuters
  • Mexico earthquake
    Devastated Mexico citizens.Reuters

"It was horrible," a 27-year-old resident Leiza Visaj Herrera was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. "I didn't want to get close under any tree. I had to hold onto the ground,"  recounted Herrera.

"We arrived at the school and everyone was crying, everyone was frantic, and the kids were holding onto a rope," said Jorge Lopez, a father of two children who were at their school in Roma.

"It's uncontrollable. You can't do anything against nature," added Lopez.

Here's a video of the eartquake: