A MAGNITUDE 8 earthquake off the coast of Mexico has sparked tsunami fears for much of Central America.
The shockwaves were felt in Mexico City, with buildings having lost power and people running into the darkened streets in their nighwear shortly before midnight local time. Early reports suggest the city was shaken for as long as four minutes.
The major earthquake was recorded off the coast of Chiapas, southern Mexico, at a depth of 33km about 3pm AEST.
Tsunami alerts have been issued for the west coast of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warns hazardous waves are possible, possibly reaching as high as 3m above the tide level. Waves as high as 1m are possible for Cook Island, Ecuador, French Polynesia, Guatemala and Kiribati.
The first tsunami waves - if they have been generated - could strike Santa Cruz.
Geological surveying services report the quake's shockwaves have been felt up to 1000km away.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.0 and its epicenter was 165 kilometers west of Tapachula in southern Chiapas state. It had a depth of 35 kilometers.
Even in distant Mexico City the quake was felt so strongly that frightened residents gathered in the streets in the dark, fearing buildings would collapse.
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