Mexico hit by a new 6.1-magnitude earthquake

At least two reported dead in Mexico City following aftershock centred in Oaxaca

 

Two people are reportedly dead after a strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing fresh alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.1 quake was centred about 18km south-southeast of Matías Romero in the state of Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on September 7th.

It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, which was the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years and killed at least 90 people.

There was some damage in Oaxaca.

The Federal Police agency posted images online showing a collapsed bridge in the region that it said had already been closed due to damage after the September 7th quake.

Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitán, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice still shaking that the new quake felt “horrible”.

“Homes that were still standing just fell down,” Ms Cruz said. “It’s hard. We are all in the streets.”

Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonalá, in the southern state of Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the strongest movements he has felt since then.

“Since September 7th it has not stopped shaking,” Mr Hernandez said.

US Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso confirmed the new quake was an aftershock of the 8.1 one, and after a jolt of that size even buildings left standing could be more vulnerable.

“So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail,” Mr Caruso said.

“At the moment the greatest damage has been to the Ixtaltepec bridge, which should be rebuilt, and structures with previous damage that collapsed,” president Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted.

He said government workers were fanning out in Juchitán to provide help to anyone who needed it.

Jaime Hernandez, director of the Federal Electrical Commission, said the quake knocked out power to 327,000 homes and businesses in Oaxaca but service had been restored to 72 per cent of customers within a few hours.

Buildings and street signs swayed and seismic alarms sounded in Mexico City during Saturday’s quake, causing people to flee homes and hotels. Some were in tears.

The tremor recalled Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 quake that has killed at least 295 people across the region.

Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central neighbourhood at the time of the latest quake and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband.

“I was frightened because I thought, ‘not again,’” Ms Castellanos said.

‘Crises of nerves’

Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera told Milenio TV there were “no new developments” due to the latest quake, though he acknowledged that it provoked “some crises of nerves” among residents.

He reported that two people died of apparent heart attacks during the new quake.

At the site of an office building that collapsed in the city on Tuesday and where an around-the-clock search for survivors was continuing, rescuers briefly left the top of the pile of rubble before returning to work.

As rescue operations stretched into day five, residents throughout the capital have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive.

More than half the dead as a result of Tuesday’s quake — 157 — perished in the capital, while another 73 died in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

Along a 60ft stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled under covers and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the four-storey-high pile of rubble behind them.

“There are moments when you feel like you’re breaking down,” said Patricia Fernandez Romero, who was waiting on Friday for word on the fate of her 27-year-old son.

“And there are moments when you’re a little calmer. They are all moments that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

Families have been sleeping in tents, accepting food and coffee from strangers They were told that water and food had been passed along to at least some of those trapped inside.

On Friday morning, after hours of inactivity blamed on rain, rescuers were preparing to re-enter the site, joined by teams from Japan and Israel.

Ms Fernandez Romero said officials told them they knew where people were trapped on the fourth floor.

“It’s that you get to a point when you’re so tense, when they don’t come out to give us information,” she said. “It’s so infuriating.”

PA