Mexico has experienced two deadly earthquakes in a span of 2 weeks. The first earthquake hit on September 7 and the second one on September 19, just 12 days after.
This latest earthquake had a magnitude of 7.1 and hit near the capital, Mexico City. Though it wasn’t as strong as the first quake, it struck closer to the big city, which led to more damage. Authorities are reporting more than 200 people dead, plus 44 collapsed buildings, cracked highways, and gas leaks in Mexico City.
Emergency workers and citizens have come out to help. They have worked through the night and into the next few days. Men and women in office clothes have rushed to affected areas with shovels. They are digging through rubble looking for survivors.
Some people held signs and raised their tightly fisted hands that called for silence so that workers could listen for the voices of people trapped in the piles. They are racing against time to find survivors. People have got together to pass dirt and debris to trucks waiting to drive it out of the way. They have brought in water, food, medical supplies to those that are injured. The people of Mexico City have showed their solidarity during this trying time.
The earthquake happened on a historic date. Thirty two years ago, on September 19, 1985, a powerful earthquake killed thousands of people in Mexico City. That was Mexico’s deadliest and costliest earthquake ever.
Why is the effect of the earthquake greater in Mexico City?
Mexico City the megalopolis (large city) is built on what was, over six centuries ago, a body of water called Lake Texcoco. Now, its waters are mostly drained, covered with concrete, and housing a growing population of almost 23 million people.
Thus Mexico City’s downtown area is vulnerable to earthquakes because of the very soft and wet ground underneath. Its soil amplifies the affects of an earthquake.
Is there an alarm system to alert citizens?
Ironically, the morning of the earthquake, people in Mexico City did drills to prepare for future earthquakes. Two hours before the quake rattled the area, local authorities conducted a scheduled drill that was supposed to test the early warning system.
The early warning system technology—called SASMEX—covers only 35 million of the 63 million people that live in earthquake vulnerable areas. The SASMEX is suppose to provide 40 seconds’ advance warning. According to Wikipedia it provided 20 seconds’ advance warning to Mexico City of the 19 September 2017 earthquake.