Mexico’s president says material damage was reported near the epicenter of Monday’s quake, but it’s fortunate the death toll isn’t higher.
The death toll from a powerful earthquake that struck western Mexico on Monday has risen to two, a government official said, as authorities take stock of damage from the quake, which came on the “damn” anniversary of two previous tremors in the country.
Laura Velazquez, the head of Mexico’s civil protection agency, said Tuesday the two deaths in Colima were due to the partial collapse of buildings. Ten people were also injured: nine in Colima and one in neighboring Michoacan.
More than 200 buildings were damaged, including dozens of schools and health centers, Velazquez said during a news conference.
The greatest damage was in the Pacific states of Colima and Michoacan, near the epicenter of the Michoacan earthquake, which occurred on the same day as two previous quakes that devastated Mexico in 1985 and 2017, respectively.
About 20 buildings in Mexico City suffered minor damage, Velazquez said, while 692 aftershocks were recorded since the quake, with the strongest measuring 5.8 on Tuesday morning.
Warning sirens for Monday afternoon’s earthquake came less than an hour after alarms blared in a nationwide quake simulation marking the two previous tremors that happened on the same day.
A magnitude 8 earthquake that struck near the coast of Guerrero state killed at least 9,500 people in 1985, while the 2017 magnitude 7.1 quake killed more than 360 people.
The epicenter of Monday’s earthquake was near the Pacific coast, about 400 km (250 miles) west of the capital Mexico City and 59 km (37 miles) south of Coalcoman in the state of Michoacan, according to seismologists.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said There was material damage near the epicenter, but luckily the death toll was not higher. “It was a tremor of considerable intensity,” he said.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said There were no reports of major damage in the capital. However, parts of the city lost power, including at traffic lights, disrupting the capital’s already notorious traffic.
Experts said there was no scientific reason for three powerful earthquakes to occur on the same day and attributed it to coincidence.
“There is no physical reason or statistical bias against earthquakes in any given month in Mexico,” said Paul Earle, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey.
Translation: The earthquake in Mexico was so strong that the pools on the terraces of these buildings began to slosh, as can be seen in this video.
Xyoli Perez-Campos, a researcher in the Department of Seismology at the Geophysical Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, also said there was no physical reason for the coincidence.
Monday’s earthquake was the result of the “interaction of the Cocos Plate with the North America Plate,” which also caused the 1985 earthquake, Perez-Campos said. Five plates – North America, Pacific, Rivera, Caribbean and Cocos – all lie under Mexican territory.
“The plates break when it’s time to break,” said Perez-Campos. “What will they know about the calendar?”
But many in Mexico couldn’t quite believe it.
Several people reacted to the recent earthquake by publishing a series of posts memes online, letting go of their fear and finding humor in the natural disaster.
“It’s really strange, but a lot of people don’t like that day anyway,” said Jorge Ornelas, a call center coordinator, adding that many of his acquaintances are worried about an earthquake next September.