DFA: No Filipino casualties in Mexico quake

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said there are no reports of Filipino killed in the powerful quake that struck southern Mexico on Friday.

Dozens have been killed by the tremor, which had a preliminary magnitude of 8.0, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Read: Mexico's strongest earthquake in a century leaves dozens dead

"The Philippine Embassy in Mexico has reported it has not received any report of any Filipino casualties," Cayetano said in a Friday statement. "We are also thankful that Ambassador De Vega was unhurt despite the close call he had in Oaxaca."

The DFA said Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo De Vega was attending an official function near the epicenter of the earthquake.

Cayetano said De Vega had just attended a welcome dinner hosted by the governor of Oaxaca and arrived at the lobby of the hotel he was staying in when the earthquake struck.

"The earth started shaking stongly but we did not think much of it at first, but then, something close to a minute had passed and instead of stopping or weakening, the shaking got even stronger and we realized that we may be in grave danger," De Vega said in a text message to Cayetano.

"So despite the rain, we stepped out of the lobby and it was a good thing as items started falling down from the ceiling just after we stepped to the driveway," he added.

De Vega said one of the chandeliers in the hotel came crashing down just seconds after.

Authorities are still assessing the damage from the earthquake, which also triggered tsunami warnings along the Pacific coastline.

Cayetano said the DFA and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico are closely monitoring the situation, including the developing tsunami alert in the region.

Cayetano added the Embassy is in touch with the Honorary Consuls and Filipino community leaders in the affected areas to make sure that the 630 Filipinos in Mexico and the 300 others in nearby Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador are all safe and accounted for.

"We stand ready to provide the necessary assistance to overseas Filipinos affected by the earthquake," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mexico and the other countries affected by the magnitude 8.2 earthquake."