Mexican officials raise Oaxaca earthquake death toll to seven

MEXICO CITY— At least seven people died and two dozen were injured in the magnitude-7.4 earthquake that shook Mexico on Tuesday, officials said.

The quake, whose epicenter was in the southern state of Oaxaca, also caused minor structural damage, including 21 hospitals, Mexican officials said. But given its size, many in the country expressed relief that the damage wasn’t more severe.

A 2017 earthquake near Mexico City killed more than 300 people, and fear of a similar disaster runs deep here. A 1985 quake killed 10,000 people.

According to Mexico’s national seismological service, Tuesday’s earthquake took place about 14 miles off the Pacific Ocean, south of the town of Crucecita. Experts said that its location off the coast helps explain the relatively limited damage.

Aftershocks and smaller quakes continued through Tuesday afternoon, and could be felt by residents of Oaxaca.

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador estimated that by Tuesday evening, there had been 147 aftershocks. By Wednesday, the country’s civil protection force said there had been more than 1,400 aftershocks.

“Fortunately there was no major damage,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

A warning alarm system in Mexico City sounded before the quake was felt, prompting many to run into the streets seeking safer ground. Some of the city’s high-rises swayed and residents posted videos of gaps in pavement opening and closing.

Mexico is combating one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks, and emergency management officials had expressed concern about what it would mean to respond to a large earthquake in the middle of a pandemic.

Civil protection coordinator David Leon said that more than 20 hospitals were damaged in the country, Deutsche Presse reported. Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that in some cases, patients had to be temporarily evacuated.

The state oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, was forced to briefly shut down its refinery. One worker at the refinery died when he fell during the earthquake, the company said.

In response to both the 1985 and 2017 earthquakes, Mexico revised its building codes, so that newer structures are more resistant to future quakes. But major Mexican cities are still populated by many informally constructed buildings that officials believe could be vulnerable.

|The Washington Post



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