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Earthquake in Mexico: Powerful, destructive but not deadly (+video)

Earthquake in Mexico: The magnitude 7.4 quake was the biggest since 1986, when at least 10,000 died. But improved construction and where this earthquake hit, say officials, has left Mexico with limited damage, and no fatalities. 

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About 40 passengers were stranded for a short time on the Mexico City airport air train, but later released. The airport closed briefly but officials said there was no runway damage and they resumed operations.

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In the working-class neighborhood of Guerrero, pieces of concrete and plaster fell off some buildings and others had fresh cracks.

"I thought I was having a stroke at first. The earth danced. It was strong," said 42-year-old homemaker Marianela Jimenez. "But it looks like it will end up being some dust and a bad scare."

Groups of women hugged and cried at Mexico City's Angel of Independence monument, where hundreds of people evacuated from office buildings said they never had felt such a strong earthquake.

Samantha Rodriguez, a 37-year old environmental consultant, was evacuated from the 11th floor on the Angel Tower office building.

"I thought it was going to pass rapidly but the walls began to thunder and we decided to get out," she said.

Tuesday's quake was the strongest shaking felt in the capital since a magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck also in Guerrero state in December. A magnitude-8.0 quake near Manzanillo on Mexico's central Pacific coast killed 51 people in 1995 and a magintude-7.5 quake killed at least 20 people in the southern state of Oaxaca in 1999.

In Guerrero, Tuesday's quake was powerful and people feared that remote villages would be damaged.

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre went to survey the damage and ordered emergency crews and civil protection to the area to help. The state did not say how many were displaced.

In Huajuapan, Guerrero, near the epicenter, hotel manager Marco Antonio Estrada also reported shaken-up guests but no major damage. He said it was longest and strongest he ever felt. People ran out of their homes and cars.

"It was very strong, but we didn't see anything fall," said Irma Ortiz, who runs a guesthouse in Oaxaca. She said their telephones are down, and that the quake shook them side-to-side.

U.S. President Barack Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, was reported safe while on vacation with a school group in Oaxaca.

In Oaxaca, Sylvia Valencia was teaching Spanish to five adult students at the Vinigulaza language school when the earthquake hit.

"Some of us sat down, others ran out," she said. "It was hard, it was strong and it was long."

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Associated Press writers Isaac Garrido, Olga R. Rodriguez, E. Eduardo Castillo, David Koop and Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico City, Sergio Flores from Acapulco and Martha Mendoza from Santa Cruz, California.

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