Terrified Mexicans feared it was the end of the world after seeing blue flashes of light across the sky in the wake of a 7.0 earthquake late on Tuesday.
A rare natural light show flashed across the night sky during a powerful earthquake that shook Mexico City and beach resort Acapulco, adding to a sense of doom as startled residents rushed into the streets.
Twitter users posted dozens of videos of the phenomenon, prompting a trend under the tag Apocalipsis, which is Spanish for Apocalypse, the biblical term used for the end of the world.
Mexico City residents feared the ‘apocalypse’ was happening on Tuesday night after seeing blue flashes of light (pictured) across the sky in the wake of a 7.0 earthquake
The 7.0 magnitude quake, which hit 11 miles (17.7 km) northeast of Acapulco in southwestern Guerrero state killed one man and damaged buildings in the holiday getaway but did not appear to cause widespread destruction, authorities said in initial reports.
There were no reports of significant damage in Mexico City.
In footage from Acapulco, the flashes start shortly after the ground starts shaking, illuminating previously darkened hills behind the ocean bay and at one point appearing to bathe buildings on the shoreline in bright light.
Twitter users posted videos of the rare natural light show prompting a trend under the tag Apocalipsis, which is Spanish for Apocalypse. Pictured: Before the blue flash
In Mexico City, panicked residents tried to keep their balance outside an apartment building while the sky flashed blue, white and pink, another video on social media showed.
Strange lights reported during earthquakes around the world are often imbued with religious meaning by those who witness them.
There is little scientific consensus on what causes the luminosity, or even if it is a real phenomenon.
Theories for what researchers call Earthquake Lights (EQL) include friction between moving rocks creating electrical activity.
Similar lights were reported by some people during a destructive quake in Mexico in 2017.
Skeptics say witnesses may be seeing more mundane lightning.
In footage, the flashes illuminate the previously darkened night sky and appear to bathe buildings on the shoreline in bright light. Pictured: Before and after
However, they were likely witnessing an unexplained scientific phenomenon known as ‘earthquake lights’ that reportedly appears in the sky near earthquakes
Earthquake Lights (EQL) phenomenon
An earthquake light is a luminous aerial phenomenon that reportedly appears in the sky at or near areas of tectonic stress, seismic activity, or volcanic eruptions.
It is believed to have been first recorded in 869 AD, following the Sanriku earthquake, described as ‘strange lights in the sky’.
There is no scientific consensus what the phenomenon causes are, or even whether it is a single phenomenon or several and research into earthquake lights is ongoing.
Speaking to NPR, Rutgers University physicist, Professor Troy Shinbrot the phenomenon of earthquake lights has been recorded historically and occurs fairly regularly.
He also said the blue lights were not a sign of the world coming to an end, saying: ‘If it did, the apocalypse would have happened a thousand years ago when this was first discovered.’
The US Geological Survey says on its website: ‘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.’
Some scientists believe the eruption of light is caused by the friction of rock near Earth’s crust, which releases energy into the atmosphere.
However, others do not believe in the phenomenon, with one skeptic, National Autonomous University of Mexico seismologist Victor Manuel Cruz Atienza, saying he believed Tuesday’s night’s lights were a result of the sky being full of a lot of electrical activity from a rainstorm.