Die After Helicopter Surveying Earthquake Damage Crashes In Mexico

People stand on the street after an earthquake shook buildings in Mexico City

A Mexican military helicopter carrying officials surveying damage from Friday's natural disaster has crashed into people who had fled their homes in the quake.

"I can't describe my sadness", the 63-year-old told Agence France-Presse (AFP), covering her face with a scarf.

A state government official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the chopper crashed into a group of people who had been spending the night outside after the 7.2 magnitude natural disaster hit the area.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Friday's quake was centered 33 miles (53 kilometers) northeast of Pinotepa in southern Oaxaca state and had a depth of 15 miles (24 kilometers).

The Interior Department said in a statement that 50 homes suffered significant structural damage along with other damage to a city hall and a church.

Oaxaca state authorities opened shelters for those affected, and almost 6,000 soldiers and federal police were deployed to help with the emergency response.

Friday's quake was caused by the Cocos plate slipping beneath the North American plate, said Xyoli Perez, head of Mexico's National Seismological Service (SSN), recalling that the same region has been hit by six major earthquakes in the past five decades. A 7.2-magnitude natural disaster rattled Mexico on Friday, causing little damage but triggering a tragedy when a minister's helicopter crash-landed on the way to the epicenter, Oaxaca, killing two people on the ground.

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Friday's quake triggered Mexico City's alarm system and caused buildings to sway in the capital.

In addition to Oaxaca and Mexico City, the quake, which lasted some 60 seconds, also rattled the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacan, Puebla and Mexico. "It's all we can do".

Patients from a nearby hospital were forced outside, some in wheelchairs or carting their IV lines.

Standing in the middle of the street, her eyes glued to her fifth-floor apartment, Graciela Escalante, 72, could hardly speak. We barely managed to get down the stairs.

"We thought everything was going to collapse again".

But the damage was minimal compared to a massive 8.2 quake that struck in the same general area on September 7 and a 7.1 magnitude quake on September 19, which killed a total of 471 people between the two of them and damaged over 180,000 houses in eight states, including Mexico City.

"Obviously people are afraid", said the emergency response chief for the city of Puebla, Gustavo Ariza.

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