Science

Mexico: Strong earthquake on the anniversary of the 1985 and 2017 earthquakes

In Mexico, September 19 is resolutely cursed: A massive 7.7 magnitude earthquake rocked the country’s west and the capital Mexico City on Monday, the anniversary of the deadly 1985 and 2017 quakes.

One person has died in the west of the country, said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. One person was reported injured in the state of Michoacán (west), where the epicenter was close to the Pacific Ocean.

In Mexico City (9 million inhabitants, 25 million with its metropolis), no serious damage was recorded.

In the capital, the tremors were strongly felt for several seconds, less than an hour after the annual anti-seismic drills, AFP notes.

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack! I’m already nervous when September rolls around,” Gabriela Ramirez, a 58-year-old housewife, told AFP.

“This area is very vulnerable because many buildings were damaged by the 2017 earthquake. They have not been repaired,” adds Ms. Ramirez, who met in the central areas of Roma Condesa, built on very unstable foundations.

“What fear. I thought: + again on the 19th, this is impossible,” Laura Plaza, a retired teacher, told AFP.

– Subway evacuated –

“There are no consequences yet in Mexico,” but “we continue to collect information,” said the mayor of the capital, Claudia Sheinbaum. She added that the metro line had to be evacuated due to a power outage.

Ms. Scheinbaum was still at the police operations center at the time of the quake, from where she had been watching the annual exercise 46 minutes earlier.

“Nothing tells us scientifically that September 19 is a special day for earthquakes,” said the mayor of Mexico City, a physicist by training.

“The fact that on September 19 there were three earthquakes with a magnitude of more than seven points is a coincidence. There is no scientific basis to explain it,” the country’s national seismological center added.

While Mexicans generally accept the scientific explanation, the coincidence leaves others guessing.

“It’s a lot of accidents, a lot of coincidences! I think it might be a sign from God,” Federico Garcia, 57, told AFP.

The epicenter was located towards the Pacific Ocean, in the state of Michoacan (west), a few hundred kilometers west of the capital, at a depth of 15 km.

The National Seismological Service first reported an earthquake of magnitude 6.8, then 7.4.

According to an AFP correspondent, only minor damage was recorded in Michoacán. “We are carrying out an assessment,” the local civil protection said.

The President, citing a representative of the Navy, said that in the neighboring state of Colima (west), a person died as a result of a falling fence in a shopping center.

Every September 19, during the annual anti-seismic drill, residents must leave their homes or workplaces at the first alarm to reach “meeting points” listed in each area.

In September 2021, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake southeast of Acapulco, Guerrero killed one person and damaged businesses and homes.

On September 19, 2017, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake killed 369 people. The earth also shook at noon, after the annual simulacrum. Entire houses collapsed in the center of the capital.

On September 19, 1985, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake devastated downtown Mexico City, killing over 10,000 people, most of whom lived in the capital.

Mexico, located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the collision of tectonic plates causes high seismic activity, is at risk of large-scale earthquakes.

The capital of Mexico is especially vulnerable in its part, built on an old pre-Hispanic lake, covered for centuries.

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