- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MEXICO CITY 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 centered near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, even after 10 aftershocks.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday about 300,000 people in the south side of the capital were without water after the quake damaged two aqueducts. He said two people were reported injured, including the driver of an empty bus crashed under a collapsed pedestrian bridge.

Nine other people were injured in Oaxaca state, according to the federal government.

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 since a massive 1985 quake.

In Guerrero, home to Acapulco where little damage was reported, officials say about 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed. In three villages near the epicenter, classes were suspended indefinitely.

“It hasn’t stopped shaking here and the truth is that we had to suspend classes because people are really afraid of what can happen to their children,” said Guerrero state Education Secretary Silvia Romero told the daily Milenio newspaper.

In the town of San Juan Cacahuatepec, in Oaxaca state, frightened residents spent the night outside their homes and woke up early Wednesday to clean up fallen roof tiles and pieces of brick fences from around their houses.

No buildings were reported to have collapsed in Oaxaca, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar.

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 Susan Hoover, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

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.

The quake’s epicenter was 200 miles south-southeast of Mexico City. Despite the distance, it was felt powerfully in the capital, where office towers swayed violently and the streets filled with people fleeing buildings. Some people sat on curbs, head in their hands, to calm themselves.

Mexico City was severely damaged in 1985 when a magnitude-8 earthquake killed at least 10,000 people. But experts said the Tuesday quake was smaller and released far less energy.