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At least 3 killed after magnitude 8.0 earthquake hits south Mexico

AT LEAST 3 KILLED AFTER MAGNITUDE 8.0 EARTHQUAKE HITS SOUTH MEXICO

An earthquake measured at a magnitude of 8.0 has hit late Thursday off the coast of Mexico, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The governor of the Mexican state of Chiapas said that at least three people have been killed in his region in a massive earthquake that hit off the country's coast.

Gov. Manuel Velasco told Milenio TV that the deaths occurred in San Cristobal de las Casas. He also said that the quake damaged hospitals and schools.

People in Mexico City ran out into the streets after the quake struck, a Reuters witness said.

Its epicenter was 123 km (76 miles) southwest of the town of Pijijiapan, at a depth of 33 km (21 miles). Widespread, hazardous tsunami waves were possible, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System said the earthquake was a potential tsunami threat to several Central American countries, including the Pacific coastlines of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It said the threat was still being evaluated for Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific islands.

Even in distant Mexico City the quake was felt so strongly that frightened residents gathered in the streets in the dark, often in their pajamas, fearing that buildings would collapse.

Civil protection officials were checking for damage in Chiapas, but the quake was so powerful that frightened residents in Mexico City more than 1,000 kilometers (650 miles) away fled apartment buildings, often in their pajamas, and gathered in groups in the street.

Around midnight buildings swayed strongly for more than minute, loosening light fixtures from ceilings. Helicopters crisscrossed the sky above Mexico Dity with spotlights. Some neighborhoods kept electricity while others remained in darkness.

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