President Barack Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, was never in danger during a strong earthquake Tuesday in Mexico, the White House said.
Malia, 13, accompanied by Secret Service agents, has been in Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico for a school-sponsored service project. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was felt strongly in Oaxaca.
The quake was followed by an aftershock that shook southern Mexico, swayed buildings in Mexico City and sent frightened workers and residents into the streets.
Kristina Schake, the first lady's communications director, said Malia Obama "is safe and was never in danger." Typically the White House does not comment on the Obama children but made an exception because of the quake.
"We would reiterate our request that the media respect the privacy and security of the Obama children and not report on or photograph the girls when they are not with their parents," Schake said.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticized Obama for allowing his daughter to travel to Mexico when the State Department had issued a travel warning for the country. "When the government is saying this is not safe, then you don't set the example by sending your kids down there," Santorum said during an interview with radio host Glenn Beck.
The State Department warning in February did not say Americans shouldn't travel to Mexico but noted that "crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere."