By Michelle Moraila
A powerful 7.8 earthquake shook Mexico this past Tuesday around noon, Mexico City time, disrupting everyday activities throughout the country and bringing damages to buildings and roads but no reported casualties. The quake’s epicenter took place between the borders of the southern states Guerrero and Oaxaca, two medium-sized states located about 200 miles south of Mexico City. Nine injuries were reported in Oaxaca but so far none in Guerrero.
Despite the distance, several other states and the capital felt one of at least 18 aftershocks ranging in magnitudes between 4.6 and 5.3. The earthquake caused a pedestrian bridge to collapse on a small empty bus, injuring its driver and one other person, but no critical injuries occurred. The metro and a couple bus routes were suspended for a couple of minutes but later resumed regular circulation.
In Oaxaca and throughout the country, people feared another earthquake would happen in the middle of the night or in the morning. Buildings were evacuated and the exact number of schools that suspended classes throughout the country is unclear but in the thousands. The National Seismological System hoped the activity would lessen as the hours passed, but many lacked sleep that night and evacuated their homes.
The states located near the epicenter suffered the worst damages. In Guerrero, 60 houses collapsed and about 800 others were damaged. As for Oaxaca, 38 schools were damaged but no buildings collapsed. Officials attribute this to the lack of tall buildings around that area.
Oaxaca and Guerrero are two of the poorest rural states in Mexico and the damages could take years to be repaired. The damages are still fresh and no estimates of how much it will cost to restore everything have been reported.
Earthquakes are common throughout the country. Since 1973, fifteen quakes with magnitudes of seven or more have been recorded near Tuesday’s epicenter. As you learned in a previous MUNdi article, Mexico City is built on a lake, and the soil beneath it magnifies seismic waves. In 1985, an 8.5 earthquake hit Mexico City killing 10,000 people and destroying 400 buildings. Because of that catastrophe stricter building regulations were implemented and buildings are stronger now. The majority of buildings now have large signs depicting evacuation routes and buildings are stronger.
In other news, happy belated birthday to President Benito Juarez! He was born on March 21, 1806 and, ironically, hailed from Oaxaca.
This post reflects the author’s personal opinions and not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.