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Mexico: Magnitude 7.6 earthquake shakes nation on anniversaries of 1985 and 2017

Veronique remembers landing in Mexico City on September 20, 1985, the day after the gigantic earthquake that devastated the stunning capital. “Floors in buildings that didn’t follow any seismic building codes slid like a stack of cards with every aftershock. Our plane from Paris, full of journalists and I, had made a stopover in Washington to pick up other journalists, and we were all stranded in an airport hotel, sharing a shower, waiting to be let into the city,” says the anthropologist. 37 years later, the earth shook violently again in Mexico.

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck western Mexico at 1:05 p.m. Monday (8:05 p.m. French time) near the Pacific coast, near Michoacán’s border with Colima state, home to the major port of Manzanillo, the US Geological Survey said (USGS). It was relatively shallow, only 15 km deep, which would have enhanced its impact.

But unlike its infamous predecessor, which officially claimed more than 10,000 lives, and the 2017 one, which claimed more than 350, the damage so far has been limited: Two people died in Manzanillo, authorities said. authorities, one was crushed by the facade of a department store, while another was found dead in a shopping mall. Videos circulating on social media showed the mall’s roof collapsing onto the top floor, a gym, as people screamed for help.

Authorities also reported damage to several hospitals in Michoacan near the epicenter, which is in a sparsely populated area of ​​Mexico. One person was injured by falling glass at one of those hospitals, the government said. Power was cut in parts of Mexico City’s modern Roma district, about 400 km from the epicenter, and a powerless subway line was evacuated. The National Electric Company said the outages affected 1.2 million customers.

“Seems like a curse”

In Coalcomán, Michoacán, not far from the epicenter, footage showed shingles torn from homes and walls cracked by the force of the quake. In a shop there are goods scattered on the floor.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said there were no immediate reports of major damage in the capital, where the tremor was felt strongly for a few seconds, less than an hour after the annual earthquake.

Every September 19, the authorities in Mexico organize a simulation of a giant earthquake. Residents should evacuate their homes or workplaces at the first alarm to reach the “assembly points” designated in each area. The actual signal, 46 minutes later, horrified some and left others in disbelief. 99% of the loudspeakers worked correctly, the town hall reported. Phone networks were near saturation due to the many calls and texts sent to comfort loved ones or receive news.

“It looks like a curse,” Issa Montes, a 34-year-old graphic designer from the city’s central Roma district, told Reuters of the time of the quake as helicopters circled over the city to monitor. “That’s a lot of chance, a lot of coincidence! I think it could be a sign from God,” said 57-year-old Federico Garcia, interviewed by AFP.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of the country’s most prestigious higher education institutions, said there was no scientific explanation for the occurrence of three major earthquakes on the same day and attributed the phenomenon to pure coincidence. “Nothing tells us scientifically that September 19 is a special day for an earthquake,” said Mexico City’s mayor, a physicist by training.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also issued a warning for coastal areas, indicating that waves reaching 1 to 3 m above the high tide level were possible.

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