Earthquake Claims Lives, Destroys Buildings in Mexico

MEXICO  --  One of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in Mexico toppled hundreds of buildings.

The quake hit in the middle of the night on Friday, sending panicked people fleeing into the streets. At least 61 people were reported dead.

The 8.1 magnitude earthquake was strong enough to cause buildings to sway violently in Mexico City. Mexico's civil defense agency said most of the known deaths--45--were in the southern state of Oaxaca. The extent of the destruction is still emerging.

Power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people. The quake's impact was reduced by the fact that it was centered 100 miles offshore in the Pacific near the Guatemalan border, but damage reached as far as the capital city.

Local residents fear repeat quakes could bring down already vulnerable structures damaged by the latest tremor.