On Tuesday, a massive earthquake hit near the resort of Huatulco and shook throughout south and central Mexico. The damage is still being accessed and rescue missions are still ongoing, but according to NBC News, at least two people have been killed and at least four have been injured.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake hit at 10:29 a.m. with a magnitude of 7.4, although it was initially recorded as 7.7 and was later downgraded.
The agency estimated that about 2 million people felt strong or moderate shaking and another 49 million felt weak or light shaking.
Pemex, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, tweeted that one of their oil refineries burst into flames due to the earthquake. Luckily, the fire was eventually put out, but at least one person was injured during the incident and is receiving medical care.
#PemexInforma que por sismo con epicentro en costas de Oaxaca, la refinería "Antonio Dovalí Jaime" en Salina Cruz fue puesta en paro seguro por registro de disparo en los turbo generadores y caldera, lo que provocó un conato de incendio que fue sofocado de inmediato. pic.twitter.com/LCG6hX1Vei
— Petróleos Mexicanos (@Pemex) June 23, 2020
— A besos entiendo : ) (@arcos_ha) June 23, 2020
Mexico’s seismological service has issued a tsunami warning on the Oaxaca coast. Waves of 0.68 meters (2.2 ft) were observed in Acapulco and 0.71 meters (2.3 ft) in Salina Cruz, according to CNN.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, at least 147 aftershocks had been reported.
This reportedly quake happened when the Cocos plate slipped under the North American plate.
These quakes also come at a time of heightened volcanic activity around the earth, with many eruptions taking place around the world in the past month. Some researchers speculate that the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions could somehow be linked, but this is mostly speculation, as it has not been significantly proven that volcanic eruptions can trigger other earthquakes or eruptions a long distance away, although it has been proven that this phenomenon takes place if volcanoes are in close proximity.
Meanwhile, many activists suggest that the quakes have been caused by the practice of “hydraulic fracturing,” which is a natural gas extraction method that has become extremely controversial for its environmental impacts. Also known as “fracking,” this extraction process involves drilling down into the earth, then directing a high-pressure water mixture at the rock below to release the gas inside. Water, sand, and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure, which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. Wastewater produced from this process is highly toxic and filled with a variety of chemicals.