Powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake causes people to flee buildings, fill streets in Mexico City

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook south and central Mexico today, causing people to flee swaying buildings and office towers in the country's capital, where residents were still jittery after a deadly quake five months ago.

Crowds of people gathered on Mexico City's central Reforma Avenue as well as on streets in Oaxaca state's capital, nearer the quake's epicentre, which was in a rural area close to Mexico's Pacific coast and the border with Guerrero state.

"It was awful," said Mercedes Rojas Huerta, 57, who was sitting on a bench outside her home in Mexico City's trendy Condesa district, too frightened to go back inside.

"It started to shake; the cars were going here and there. What do I do?"

She said she was still scared thinking of the September 19 earthquake that caused 228 deaths in the capital and 141 more in nearby states. Many buildings in Mexico City are still damaged from that quake.

The US Geological Survey originally put the magnitude of  the quake on Friday (local time) at 7.5 but later lowered it to 7.2. 

It said the epicenter was 53 kilometres northeast of Pinotepa in southern Oaxaca state. It had a depth of 24 kilometres.

Mexican Civil Protection chief Luis Felipe Puente tweeted that there were no immediate reports of damages from the quake. 

The Oaxaca state government said via Twitter that only material damages were reported near Pinotepa and Santiago Jamiltepec, but that shelters were opened for those fleeing damaged homes.

The Mexico City Red Cross said via Twitter that the facade of a building collapsed in Mexico City's Condesa neighborhood, which was hit hard on September 19. 

About an hour after the quake, a magnitude 5.8 aftershock also centered in Oaxaca caused tall buildings in Mexico City to briefly sway again.

USGS seismologist Paul Earle said Friday's earthquake appeared to be a separate tremor, rather than an aftershock of a September 8 earthquake also centered in Oaxaca, which registered a magnitude of 8.2. The September 19 earthquake struck closer to Mexico City.

The September 8 quake killed nearly 100 people in Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas, but was centered about 440 kilometres southwest of Friday's earthquake, Earle said.

In Mexico's capital, frightened residents flooded into the streets in Condesa, including one woman wrapped in just a towel, but there were no immediate signs of damage.

"I'm scared," said Rojas Huerta, recalling five months ago when buildings fell as she ran barefoot into the street. "The house is old."



Two tiger sharks killed after Queensland shark attacks

Queensland fisheries authorities have caught and killed two tiger sharks, but it is unclear if they are responsible for separate attacks on a woman and a little girl in the Whitsundays.

Three baited hooks were dropped in the area on Friday, with Fisheries Queensland officials catching and killing a two-metre tiger shark and a 3.3-metre tiger shark today.

"It is unclear if they were responsible for injuries caused to two swimmers this week," Fisheries Queensland said in a statement.

The state government insists killing the sharks is in the interest of public safety, despite also saying it would be impossible to determine whether they were the sharks responsible.

The sharks will be cut open and measured before being dumped at sea.

12-year-old Hannah Papps was holidaying from Melbourne with her father and sister when she received a life-threatening wound to her right leg on Thursday while swimming in shallow water in Cid Harbour.

Her attack came after Tasmanian Justine Barwick, 46, was bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling in the same area less than 24 hours earlier.

Both victims have now been transferred to hospitals in Brisbane where Hannah is in a critical but stable condition and Ms Barwick was last known to be stable.

"We would like to thank everyone who has helped and cared for Hannah, including the police, emergency services and the hospital teams," her family said in a statement on Friday.

"We ask that everyone, including the media, please respect our family's privacy during this very difficult time so we can focus our energies on Hannah's recovery."

It is the first time baited hooks have been used in the popular Whitsundays holiday destination, where the tourism industry is still recovering following Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

The girl is Hannah Papps, who lives in Melbourne with her New Zealand parents. Source: 1 NEWS


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At least eight members of elite Revolutionary guard dead after gunmen attack military parade in Iran

Gunmen attacked a military parade in the southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz today, killing at least 8 members of the elite Revolutionary Guard and wounding 20 people, state media said.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the wounded included a woman and a child but did not elaborate.

Earlier reports described the assailants as "Takfiri," a term previously used to describe the Islamic State group.

The semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to the elite Revolutionary Guard, said two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing khaki uniforms carried out the attack.

State television showed images of the immediate aftermath. In it, paramedics could be seen helping someone in military fatigues laying on the ground.

Other armed security personnel shouted at each other in front of what appeared to be a viewing stand for the parade.

The semi-official ISNA news agency published photographs of the attack's aftermath, with bloodied troops in dress uniforms helping each other walk away. The attack struck on Ahvaz's Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Today’s attack comes after a coordinated June 7, 2017 Islamic State group assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran.

That attack had at that point been the only one by the Sunni extremists inside of Shiite Iran, which has been deeply involved in the wars in Iraq and Syria where the militants once held vast territory.

At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the 2017 attack that saw gunmen carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives storm the parliament complex where a legislative session had been in progress, starting an hours-long siege.

Meanwhile, gunmen and suicide bombers also struck outside Khomeini's mausoleum on Tehran's southern outskirts.

Khomeini led the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah to become Iran's first supreme leader until his death in 1989.

Ahvaz is the capital of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province. The province in the past has seen Arab separatists attack oil pipelines.

The assault shocked Tehran, which largely has avoided militant attacks in the decades after the tumult surrounding the Islamic Revolution.

Fighter generic. Source: Thinkstock

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Student pilot charged after allegedly trying to steal passenger plane in the US

A 22-year-old student pilot suspected of boarding a vacant passenger plane at a central Florida airport yesterday has been charged with criminal attempt to steal an airplane, officials said.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating and trying to determine a motive in the case, according to Orlando-Melbourne International Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker.

She told news outlets the student pilot, identified as Florida Institute of Technology student Nishal Sankat, also faces a visa violation and criminal trespassing charges.

Early yesterday, a man drove to the curb outside the airport, left his car running, hopped a fence and boarded an Airbus 321 American Airlines aircraft sitting in a maintenance facility, Booker said.

An avionics technician was in the plane's galley when he saw a shadow, Booker said.

"He turned around and said, 'Who are you? Show me your badge," Booker told news outlets. She said the technician was among airport workers she dubbed heroes.

He grabbed the man and, with help from another technician, they got him off the plane. Booker said that while one technician held the man down, the other called Melbourne airport police.

The man broke free and ran along the airfield before police took him into custody about two minutes later.

After the man was arrested, officials conducted a sweep of the airfield before re-opening the airport.

All employees and passengers were removed from the terminal during the incident, which caused two flight delays and interrupted airport operations for about five hours.

Police searched the student pilot's car with a robotic arm to make sure no explosives were inside, Booker said. The car was then towed from the airport.

The airport returned to normal operations after five hours.

Booker said the student pilot is from Trinidad and entered the United States through Canada. The spokeswoman said he has a Florida driver's licence.

The man had jumped the fence and made it to the Airbus' flight deck. Source: US ABC


Queensland shark bite victims remain in hospital

A woman and a little girl bitten by a shark at the same location but in separate attacks in Queensland remain in hospital.

Hannah Papps, who lives in Melbourne with her Kiwi parents, was holidaying with her father and sister when she received a life-threatening wound to her right leg on Thursday while swimming in shallow water in Cid Harbour.

Her attack came after Tasmanian mother of two, Justine Barwick, 46, was bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling in the same area less than 24 hours earlier.

Both have now been transferred to hospitals in Brisbane where the 12-year-old is in a critical but stable condition and Ms Barwick was last known to be stable.

"We would like to thank everyone who has helped and cared for Hannah, including the police, emergency services and the hospital teams," her family said in a statement on Friday.

“We ask that everyone, including the media, please respect our family's privacy during this very difficult time so we can focus our energies on Hannah's recovery.”

Three baited hooks set by the Fisheries Department in the harbour on Friday will remain in place for at least a week as authorities try to catch a shark or sharks responsible.

It is the first-time baited hooks have been used in the popular Whitsundays holiday destination, where the tourism industry is still recovering following Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

The girl is Hannah Papps, who lives in Melbourne with her New Zealand parents. Source: 1 NEWS


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