Disasters & Accidents

Mexico earthquake blamed for 2nd death

Mexico City, Sep 20 (EFE).- A second person has died as a result of the magnitude-7.7 earthquake that struck western Mexico on the 37th anniversary of two devastating temblors, the national civil protection coordinator said Tuesday.

Both of the fatalities took place in Manzanillo, a port city in Colima state, Laura Velazquez said during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s daily press conference.

Authorities reported one death in the aftermath of Monday’s quake: a woman crushed under a wall that collapsed.

Subsequently, a man hurt when a roof gave way at a shopping center died of his injuries.

Nine other people in Manzanillo were injured, along with a man in Coalcoman, Michoacan state, the epicenter of the temblor, which was felt less than an hour after alarms had sounded as part of a nationwide earthquake simulation held every Sept. 19.

More than 20,000 people perished as a result of the magnitude-8.0 quake that struck Mexico City on Sept. 19, 1985, while the magnitude-7.1 temblor just south of the central city of Puebla on the same date in 2017 is blamed for around 370 deaths.

“After the first damage-evaluations rounds conducted by authorities at the three levels of government, it is possible to locate the greatest impact in the states of Colima and Michoacan,” Velazquez said.

Damaged buildings in Colima and Michoacan include 28 medical facilities and 30 schools. A half-dozen bridges and nine roadways were also affected.

The Mexican armed forces have deployed more than 3,600 personnel in the two states to aid with the recovery, Velazquez said.

“The loss of human lives is regrettable,” Lopez Obrador said, while expressing relief that the casualties and destruction were on a far smaller scale than the two previous quakes of Sept. 19.

The zone of Monday’s temblor lacks the monitoring equipment needed to detect the instability that leads to earthquakes, one of Mexico’s top seismologists told Efe.

There is a single seismological observatory within a 100 km (60 mi) radius, according to Victor Manuel Cruz Atienza, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Geophysical Institute.

“At least 12 additional stations would be required” to gauge correctly the potential for seismic events in Michoacan, he said, pointing out that Monday’s quake was the fourth of magnitude-7.0 or greater in Coalcoman during the last 81 years.

Officials have a “moral obligation” to be guided by experts, Cruz Atienza said.

“I have the impression that scientific knowledge proves not to be very attractive in our country,” he said. EFE ppc-bi/dr

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