A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.0 struck off the southern coast of Mexico early Friday prompting potential tsunami threats along the entire southern coast of Central America.

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake with the “potential of causing a tsunami” has hit off the coast of Mexico.

The quake struck about 70 miles off the coast of Chiapas, Mexico, near the border with Guatemala at 12:49 a.m. ET.

“This is a large quake. I’m sure that it will be widely felt — and possibly damaging,” said Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The sizable quake prompted the Pacific Tsunami Warning System to issue threats lasting for three hours along the borders of nearly all Central American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a tweet that he had initiated emergency protocols, including convening the National Emergency Committee.

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