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Strong Earthquake Strikes Near Acapulco, Damages Around 800 Homes

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People run to safety on the streets of Mexico City after a quake  hits Mexico on March 20, 2012. (credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People run to safety on the streets of Mexico City after a quake hits Mexico on March 20, 2012. (credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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MEXICO CITY (CBS Houston/AP) – A 7.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Acapulco, Mexico, a favorite tourist destination, Tuesday afternoon, causing widespread damage and toppling hundreds of houses.

The United States Geological Survey reports that the quake’s epicenter was 11 miles underground and 115 miles from Acapulco, in the Oaxaca region, where President Obama’s 13-year-old daughter Malia is reportedly staying for spring break. The White House tells CBS Houston that Malia is safe.

“In light of today’s earthquake, we can confirm that Malia Obama is safe and was never in danger,” Kristina Schake, communications director to Michelle Obama, told CBS Houston. “We would reiterate our request that the media respect the privacy and security of the Obama children and not report on or photograph the girls when they are not with their parents.”

The Guerrero state government emergency personnel reports 800 residential building collapses, though the survey is still incomplete.

“You can definitely have some pretty significant damage for the region,” USGS geophysicist Julie Dutton told CBS Houston, adding they have seen aftershocks in the 5.0-magnitude range since the initial quake.

Residents near the epicenter describe being shook side-to-side.

“It was very strong, but we didn’t see anything fall,” Irma Ortiz, who runs a guesthouse in Oaxaca, told the Associated Press.

Governor Angel Aguirre Rivero ordered the immediate dispatch of help and support personnel to the area. Mexican President Felipe Calderon instructed the immediate transfer of medical brigades to serve affected populations like in Igualapa where houses are reported affected; Cuajinicuilapa, where several larger buildings were affected and in Huajintepec, the epicenter.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says there is no tsunami threat for the region.

Reuters reports that buildings shook and people fled into the streets in Mexico City.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard took to Twitter to say that “no serious damage” has been reported in the schools but there are “several properties with cracks, broken glass, or tilt.”

A woman who answered the phone at General Hospital in Putla Villa de Guerrero told CBS News that there have been people treated for only minor injuries.

There have been no reported deaths from the earthquake.

Los Angeles International Airport officials say the three airlines serving Acapulco from LAX do not report any delays following the earthquake.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles says three airlines have five daily connecting flights from LAX to Acapulco with a change of aircraft in Mexico City.

Castles says four of the flights had departed Los Angeles before Tuesday’s quake and the remaining afternoon flight is still scheduled to depart.

Castles says passengers scheduled to depart to Acapulco should nonetheless check the flight status with their airline before coming to the airport.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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