Kiwi travelers caught up in a magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Mexico have described their fear, with one describing it as "a different sort of beast".

The quake struck off Mexico's southern coast of Chiapas about 5pm New Zealand time, killing five, and toppling homes.

It caused buildings to sway violently more than 1000km away in Mexico City, and it was estimated up to 47 million had felt it.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said 103 New Zealanders were registered as travelling in Mexico, but none had requested consular assistance last night.

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One former New Zealand resident, who didn't give their name, said their family was on the ninth floor in a Mexico City building when the quake struck, describing it as "very frightening".

"I used to live in New Zealand and I felt big earthquake there. This one was definitely a different sort of beast. My family and I are still very dizzy and it ended some time ago.

"My little baby hugged me and she was still half asleep but imagine how strong it was."

Plaza Amber - Amber Square - in Tuxtla near Chiapas, Mexico, damaged after a 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck South Western Mexico 07 September 2017 picture supplied via twitter credit: @Alerta
Plaza Amber - Amber Square - in Tuxtla near Chiapas, Mexico, damaged after a 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck South Western Mexico 07 September 2017 picture supplied via twitter credit: @Alerta

Aubrey Dyer said the quake was strong and steady, but she was still able to cross her Mexico City hotel room to a doorway.

"The hotel alarms went off and it was evacuated after the shaking stopped while they checked for damage," she said.

"It was certainly a very frightening experience but the shaking was strong and steady as opposed to violent and sharp."

The quake's epicentre was 123km southwest of the town of Pijijiapan, at a depth of 33km.

The US Geological Survey said buildings were shaking across the centre and south of the country, sending people running into the streets of the capital.

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Meanwhile in Florida, Kiwis were last night bracing for the wrath of Hurricane Irma which was expected to hit the region.

Residents were evacuating the area en masse, and former Cantabrian Anna Wilding said she was boarding up her house.

Her Palm Beach home was in the eye of the storm, but Wilding said leaving was difficult due to blocked motorways.

"There's nowhere to go."

More than 100 residents are thought to be in the path of the storm, according to MFAT.