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Quake hits Mexico, but spares lives

A powerful earthquake that shook Mexico from its massive capital to its resort-studded southern coast damaged hundreds of homes and sent thousands of panicked people fleeing from swaying office buildings, yet apparently didn't cause a single death.

As of early Wednesday, there were still no reports of deaths from Tuesday's magnitude-7.4 quake centred near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, even after 10 aftershocks.

Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said on Tuesday night that nine people were injured in Oaxaca and two in Mexico City.

Seismologists and civil protection officials said where the earthquake hit and how it hit appear to have limited the damage, along with improved construction in the capital following a massive 1985 quake.

There were reports of damaged buildings but none were reported to have collapsed on the Oaxaca side of the border, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar said.

In Guerrero, home to Acapulco where little damage was reported, officials say about 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed.

Authorities said the absence of tall buildings in the mountainous rural area is one reason for the lack of casualties.

"Another factor to consider is how tested an area has been," said USGS seismologist Susan Hoover.

There have been 15 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or stronger since 1973 within 310 miles of Tuesday's quake. Weaker buildings collapse with each quake, leaving a cadre of stronger ones that can withstand the shaking.

Mexico City was badly damaged in 1985 when a magnitude-8.0 earthquake killed at least 10,000 people. But experts say Tuesday's quake was smaller and released far less energy.

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