People remove debris off a building that collapsed after an earthquake rattled Mexico City.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 119 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.
Dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone.
The quake is the deadliest in Mexico since a 1985 quake on the same date killed thousands. It came less than two weeks after another powerful quake left 90 dead in the country's south.
Mancera said at least 30 had died in Mexico City, and officials in Morelos, just to the south, said 54 had died there.
At least 26 others died in Puebla state, according to state disaster prevention chief Carlos Valdes.
Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said at least nine had died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital.
Mancera said 50 to 60 people were rescued alive by citizens and emergency workers.
At one site, reporters saw onlookers cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble. Rescuers immediately called for silence so that they could listen for others who might be trapped.
Mariana Morales, a 26-year-old nutritionist, 26, was one many who spontaneously participated in rescue efforts.
She wore a paper face mask and her hands were still dusty from having joined a rescue brigade to clear rubble from a building that fell in a cloud of dust before her eyes, about 15 minutes after the quake.
Morales said she was in a taxi when the quake struck, and she out and sat on a sidewalk to try to recover from the scare. Then, just a few yards away, the three-story building collapsed.
A dust-covered Carlos Mendoza, 30, said that he and other volunteers had been able to pull two people alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building three hours of effort.
"We saw this and came to help," he said. "It's ugly, very ugly."
Researchers liken the volcano's hot zone to a boiling pot of soup. Over the last several years, the volcano has gotten considerably hotter.
Four years ago, scientists warned any eruption could kill millions living near or on top of the volcano.
Now, based on an assessment of the current flows, scientists are worried that a potentially deadly eruption could happen close to a population center like the city of Naples.