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Number of Casualties Likely to Rise in Western Mexico Earthquake

Rescue workers continue to search for survivors of a powerful earthquake in western Mexico. At least 24 people have died and more than 100 are injured.

President Vicente Fox flew to Colima Wednesday to supervise relief operations and assess the damage in the Pacific coast state 500 kilometers from Mexico City.

The quake's epicenter was off the coast of Colima, not far from the port city of Manzanillo.

Reports trickling in from remote areas indicate the number of casualties will most likely increase and destruction could be more widespread than initially reported.

Dozens of homes and office buildings collapsed in Colima, the state capital, and poor outlying areas. Many of the fallen structures were old and made from adobe and not strong enough to withstand a quake of that magnitude.

The army was sent in to assist frightened residents, many of whom spent the night in the street. The government set up six shelters, but only one was used since people were unaware of their availability. Many areas in the state have no electricity or phone service.

The quake was felt as far away as Mexico City, where people evacuated buildings, fearful they could collapse. No major damage has been reported, but the mayor of Mexico City sent inspectors to evaluate structures that may have been affected by the strong quake.

The earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck Tuesday night and lasted for about 45 seconds. Although Colima was the hardest hit state, the quake was felt over a wide area of central Mexico.