Story at a glance
- A magnitude 7 earthquake hit Mexico City and Acapulco just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
- One man was reported dead, but the damage was otherwise minimal, according to local reports.
- Videos posted on social media captured lights in the sky associated with the earthquake.
Not long after a deadly earthquake hit Mexico City and nearby Acapulco, the hashtag Apocalipsis, which means apocalypse in Spanish, popped up on social media along with videos of bright lights flashing over the rubble below.
This is how #earthquakes look in the sky from an 11th floor ⚡
What you hear is the building crashing against the one next to it #earthquakeinthesky #Mexico #surreal pic.twitter.com/XNJESUdOew
— elian huesca ⚡ (@elianhuesca) September 8, 2021
— Javier Alarcón (@Javier_Alarcon_) September 8, 2021
One man was reported dead in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, which the United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded at a magnitude of 7 just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday, but the damage was limited, according to Reuters.
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The lights caught on video are similar to other reports of sheet lightning, balls of light, streamers and steady glows in association with earthquakes. While the phenomenon isn’t entirely uncommon, it’s rare enough that scientists haven’t reached a consensus on what causes earthquake lights, or EQL, in every case.
“Geophysicists differ on the extent to which they think that individual reports of unusual lighting near the time and epicenter of an earthquake actually represent EQL: some doubt that any of the reports constitute solid evidence for EQL, whereas others think that at least some reports plausibly correspond to EQL,” says the USGS website. “Physics-based hypotheses have been proposed to explain specific classes of EQL reports, such as those in the immediate vicinity of the causative fault at the time of a major earthquake. On the other hand, some reports of EQL have turned out to be associated with electricity arcing from the power lines shaking.”
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