MEXICO CITY – Mexico City residents re-lived a nightmare after a magnitude-7.1 earthquake killed hundreds and caused widespread destruction on Tuesday, the same day that a huge tremor in 1985 killed thousands.
That earthquake caused around 45,000 deaths according to non-government organizations, although official figures said 20,000 had died.
A resident of the Roma district in central Mexico City, Jose Angel Quimber, told EFE that Tuesday’s devastation reminded him of the horrific scenes from 1985.
Quimber is among the thousands of locals who helped clear the rubble in 1985, and who have pitched in to help with rescue efforts after Tuesday’s quake, whose epicenter was 120 kilometers away, in the state of Morelos.
Thirty two years ago, a magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck at 7:17 am, just as thousands of people were beginning their morning commutes.
The capital struggled for months to rebuild structures destroyed by the earthquake, including hospitals, schools and hotels; and the survivors have vivid memories of the disaster.
Carmen Almazan, head of a kindergarten which escaped any serious damage on Tuesday, said that the tremors had caused many locals to relive the horrors and trauma of 1985.
Tuesday’s quake – which also caused significant damage in the provinces of Morelos, Puebla and the State of Mexico – struck barely two hours after a nation-wide mock drill for earthquakes was carried out at 11:00 am in Mexico City.
The drill was based on a hypothetical magnitude-8 earthquake with its center in the state of Guerrero.
Due to the proximity of the earthquake’s epicenter, the seismic alarm system – sounded through more than 8,000 loudspeakers installed on city streets – did not allow sufficient time for people to respond.
Tuesday’s tremor followed another quake on Sept. 7, which was the strongest to hit the country since 1932.
That magnitude-8.2 quake killed 98 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
The worst hit were the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca – among the poorest in the country – where rescue work and damage assessments were still ongoing.