At least 226 dead as powerful earthquake strikes central Mexico

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At least 226 people have died after a strong earthquake struck central Mexico yesterday evening.

The death toll was confirmed by the country's civil defence agency, though it is feared that number may rise as rescue crews and volunteers search through rubble in hope of finding survivors who may still be trapped.

The 7.1 magnitude quake caused widespread devastation in the capital and neighbouring states.

Disaster struck just hours after a number of emergency drills were conducted exactly 32 years after a similar quake killed thousands in Mexico city.

More than 20 children and two adults were found dead at a school in Coapa and President Enrique Peña Nieto said a further 30 children and 12 adults are missing.

Approximately 2 million people in the Mexico City were left without electricity or phone lines and residents were warned not to smoke on the street as gas mains could have been broken.

In a televised address, the president said an emergency had been declared.

"We may still find people under the rubble. Stay in touch, follow lines of communication, we will keep people updated," he said.

According to US Geological Survey, the tremor struck close to the town of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla, 76 miles southeast of Mexico City.

The devastating quake comes just weeks after an 8.1 magnitude tremor killed at least 90 people in southern Mexico.

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