Prolonged quake shakes buildings across the capital Mexico City, with the epicentre close to the Pacific coast in the southern state of Oaxaca, according to the US Geological Survey.

People and their dogs remain on a street during a powerful earthquake in Mexico City on February 16, 2018.
People and their dogs remain on a street during a powerful earthquake in Mexico City on February 16, 2018. (AFP)

A powerful earthquake shook south and central Mexico on Friday, causing people to flee buildings and office towers in the country's capital, and setting off quake alert systems.

Crowds of people gathered on central Reforma Avenue in Mexico City as the ground shook.

The US Geological Survey put the quake's preliminary magnitude at 7.2 and said its epicentre was 53 kilometres northeast of Pinotepa in Oaxaca state. It had a depth of 24 kilometres.

Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete said the quake caused some superficial damage to buildings in Oaxaca, but no deaths had been reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat after the earthquake.

The Oaxaca state civil protection agency said it was monitoring the coastline and that no damage had been reported so far.

In Mexico City, tall buildings swayed for more than a minute as seismic alarms sounded throughout the city, and tremors were felt as far away as Guatemala to the south.

Television images showed thousands of people in the streets in the city centre, where crowds had gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

"It was awful," said Mercedes Rojas Huerta, 57, who was sitting on a bench outside her home in Mexico City's trendy Condesa district, too frightened to go back inside. 

"It started to shake; the cars were going here and there. What do I do?"

She said she was still scared thinking of September 19 earthquake last year that left 228 people dead in the capital and 369 across the region. 

Many buildings in Mexico City are still damaged from that quake.

Mexican Civil Protection chief Luis Felipe Fuente tweeted that there were no immediate reports of major damages from Friday's quake.

The Red Cross reported the facade from a building in the Condesa neighbourhood, which was hit hard on September 19, collapsed.

In the Condesa neighbourhood, frightened residents flooded into the streets, including one woman wrapped in just a towel, but there were no immediate signs of damage.

"I'm scared," Rojas Huerta said. "The house is old."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies