Strong quake rekindles memories of past disasters in Mexico

2018-02-17 11:47
A woman embraces a boy as a powerful earthquake rocks Mexico City. (AFP)

A woman embraces a boy as a powerful earthquake rocks Mexico City. (AFP)

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Mexico City - A powerful earthquake that rattled south and central Mexico caused little apparent destruction but rekindled fears in a population that still sees daily reminders of deadly earthquakes five months ago.

Maricarmen Trujillo was in the same place Friday on the eighth floor of a Mexico City office building where she rode out a September 19 earthquake that killed 228 people in the capital alone.

"I relived a lot of those moments," Trujillo said, still jittery. But this time an emergency app on her cellphone gave her a 30-second warning before things started to shake. She stayed in place, but felt more prepared.

Other people in Mexico City and southern Oaxaca state, where the quake's epicenter was located, flooded the streets as the ground seethed, memories of collapsed buildings still fresh. A magnitude 8.2 quake on September 7 killed nearly 100 people in Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas.

Renewed fear

In Mexico City, the wounds from the September 19 quake still had not healed when Friday's earthquake struck. Many buildings left uninhabitable are still awaiting demolition. People pass roped off cracked buildings and cleared lots on a daily basis.

Mercedes Rojas Huerta wasted no time running barefoot out of her home in Mexico City's Condesa neighborhood when she heard the earthquake alarm on Friday. The district is the site of numerous collapsed and badly damaged buildings from last year's temblor.

"I'm scared," Rojas Huerta said outside her home, too afraid to go back inside, recalling how the buildings fell five months ago. "The house is old."

The streets of Condesa were flooded by residents fleeing their homes, including one woman wrapped just in a towel.

The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude of Friday's quake at 7.5 but later lowered it to 7.2. It said the epicenter was 53 kilometers northeast of Pinotepa in southern Oaxaca state. It had a depth of 24 kilometers.

About an hour after the quake, a magnitude 5.8 aftershock also centered in Oaxaca caused tall buildings in Mexico City to briefly sway again.

USGS seismologist Paul Earle said Friday's earthquake appeared to be a separate temblor, rather than an aftershock of a September 7 earthquake in Oaxaca.

Mexican Civil Protection chief Luis Felipe Puente tweeted that there were no immediate reports of damages from Friday's quake and by the evening there had been no reports of deaths.

The Oaxaca state government said via Twitter that only material damages were reported near Pinotepa and Santiago Jamiltepec. But it added that shelters had been opened for those fleeing damaged homes.

Gladys Barreno Castro was at work on the 29th floor of a downtown office building in Mexico City, but recognized quickly that the shaking was not as violent this time.

"It lasted a long time, but it wasn't as strong," Barreno said. "This time it moved, but I didn't think that it was going to destroy the city like the last time."

Read more on:    mexico  |  earthquakes

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