News

Earthquakes in Mexico Kill More Than 400

By GALINA BELLO

Staff Writer

Only 12 days after Mexico experienced its most powerful earthquake in a century, a second one devastated the country on Sept. 19 around lunchtime.

The first earthquake occurred near midnight on Sept. 7, with a magnitude of 8.1, and was declared the second strongest earthquake in Mexico’s history. Its epicenter was located in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, close to the Southern Mexican states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz and the country of Guatemala. Less than 100 people died in these areas, but more than 800,000 people were affected, with many losing their homes and belongings.

In the midst of recovery efforts, a second earthquake damaged Mexico less than two weeks later. This time, the natural hazard occurred in central Mexico, less than 100 miles from Mexico City. Although the magnitude of this earthquake was 7.1, less than the first, it was more damaging because it occurred near the densely populated capital.

What is most perplexing to the country is that the second earthquake occurred on the 32nd anniversary of Mexico’s 1985 earthquake that killed nearly 10,000 people. Because of this, many people were already running through earthquake drills earlier in the day before the

second earthquake struck. According to ABC News, the current death toll from the second earthquake is 344 people. Numerous hospitals, businesses, offices and homes collapsed and workers are searching the ruins for missing bodies and survivors. One building that collapsed was a school, where 20 students and faculty were killed.
Most of the collapsed sites in Mexico City have already been cleared. The damage from the two earthquakes combined could potentially cost $2 billion, and there are massive efforts currently aiding the country.

The U.S. sent professionals from the Los Angeles County Fire Department to help clear the rubble in Mexico, as the department possesses a vast amount of specialized tools and equipment specifically for this type of disaster.

Like Los Angeles, Mexico is prone to earthquakes. It is situated near the boundary of three fault lines, the places where tectonic plates meet. Mexico is on the North American plate. To the south are the Paci c Plate and the Cocos Plate. The Cocos plate is currently moving underneath the North American plate through a gradual process called subduction, which builds up immense pressure and friction underneath the continents causing energy to be released in the form of an earthquake.

In addition, Mexico City is built upon a dried-up lake bed comprised of clay, soil and many loose sediments instead of harder rock. This makes the shaking of an earthquake much more prominent in the city, leading to the more violent collapses of buildings and their foundations.

However, because this is known to engineers and officials in Los Angeles and Mexico alike, one way to prevent buildings from collapsing during earthquakes is to bolster their foundations. Many of the buildings that collapsed recently in Mexico were built prior to the 1985 earthquake, according to the Los Angeles Times. Since then, Mexico has toughened its building codes and restrictions, which are now thought to be just as strict as those in the United States and Canada.

 

Engineers from Los Angeles currently working in Mexico are hopeful that new buildings that are going to replace the demolished ones will incorporate more steel reinforcement in their foundations to minimize the amount of destruction from future earthquakes.

That is not to say that Mexico still does not need immediate help. USA Today reported that “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” actor Diego Luna was one of the thousands who was at home in Mexico City when the Sept. 19 earthquake occurred. He posted footage of the damage to social media, appealing to his fans for help. Along with Mexican actor and producer Gael García Bernal, the two have partnered with companies Abulante and Omaze to raise funds. They have raised more than $588,000, but still need help. Their online campaign closes on Oct. 30.

 

Donations can be made to other organizations. Vox recommends Red Cross Mexico, Oxfam Mexico, Global Giving, UNICEF Mexico and the International Community Foundation.

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