The number of earthquakes in the country in the last six years has increased dramatically, reaching nearly 6,000, according to data from the National Earthquake Center.
While most of the increase has been in Mexico City, the capital of the country’s main north-eastern state of Chiapas, the city has also been hit by an earthquake.
The number rose to 5,800 in July 2020, and 4,000 in August.
The earthquake caused a tsunami that washed away buildings and damaged nearby roads, prompting the evacuation of some 4,200 people, according, to the Mexican government.
The city was in the midst of construction when the earthquake struck, and it was already experiencing major problems.
An analysis by a U.S. government-funded research group found that the city’s public transportation system was severely damaged and the water system was dangerously low, while the population was under-populated.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake had caused at least $2.6 billion in damage and could have caused a disaster of at least 5 million to 10 million people, with at least 500 deaths.
“This was an enormous, a very, very significant earthquake,” Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said at a news conference Wednesday.
“But it was not a massive one, because it was so small.”
The quake struck at 2:42 p.m. local time (3:42 a.m., EDT) at a depth of 8 miles (12 kilometers).
The quake hit about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Mexico City and about 7 miles (10 kilometers) northwest of the capital.
The National Emergency Agency said more than 40,000 people had been evacuated from the city since Wednesday.
According to the USGS, about 50 percent of Mexico is in a state of earthquake danger, meaning it is experiencing a number of strong shaking events.
The government has also issued a mandatory evacuation order for the entire state of Michoacan, which is home to about one-third of the population of nearly 3 million.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said he was “shocked” to learn of the magnitude of the quake.
The earthquake was felt all over the country, from the southern states of Chiampas and Guerrero to the northern states of Jalisco and Veracruz, where many people were evacuated by helicopter.
Mancera blamed the government’s poor planning, saying it did not consider the possibility of an earthquake before it struck.
“They didn’t even consider what a natural disaster it was,” he said.
Some local officials have argued that the earthquake could have been avoided.
In addition to the earthquake, Mexico City also experienced several minor aftershocks, including one on June 23 that was not felt by the city.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been monitoring the quake, and said there was no immediate threat to public safety.
The OCHA said the death toll from the quake was likely to rise.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Coughlin contributed to this report.