Mexico’s Violent Earthquakes Displace Thousands and Kill Hundreds

By Madison Kemp


Citizens of Mexico sift through the wreckage after a devastating 8.1 magnitude earthquake. 

The first earthquake was strong enough to cause buildings to sway violently all the way in the capital city, which was more than 650 miles away from the epicenter – that was 74 miles off the coast – in the Pacific Ocean. President Enrique Peña Nieto declared the disaster as the strongest earthquake Mexico had seen in 100 years. (September 1985, a magnitude 8.0 quake had killed an estimated 9,500 citizens in and around the capital city.) As for the second tremor which occurred in Mexico City, at least 60 buildings collapsed with hundreds of structures posing as a threat to residents and rescue workers.

“People are worried that some of the affected buildings could collapse anytime” said Victorio Hernández, an insurance broker who had been organizing volunteer cleanup crews via Facebook. “There are many buildings that are near collapse. They need to be inspected to check if they remain habitable,” he explained.


Following the first earthquake, rescue efforts had been focusing on the worst-hit states including Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapa. Relief was partly delayed since Hurricane Katia was complicating the dispatching of supplies to the harder-hit areas. When the second quake struck, it added on an extra challenge for relief crews. In Mexico City, thousands of soldiers, civilians and rescuers were working side-by-side, digging through huge piles of rubble from the many crumbled buildings.

With reconstruction underway, it’s predicted to be a while for all of the affected areas to get back on their feet. Peña Nieto stated after the first incident, “The power of this earthquake was devastating, but we are certain that the power of unity, the power of solidarity and the power of shared responsibility will be greater.” After the second earthquake, Peña Nieto made another statement, “Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives, including girls and boys in schools, buildings and houses. I want to express my condolences to those who lost a family member or a loved one. Mexico shares your grief.”

Like any natural disaster it’s important to keep those affected in our thoughts, hoping the very best for those communities, and looking for opportunities to lend aid where possible.

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