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Earthquake Leaves Buildings Collapsed, Damaged

Thursday, September 21, 2017

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Dozens of buildings collapsed and scores more were damaged Tuesday as Mexico was hit with its second earthquake in as many weeks. As of Wednesday afternoon, the death toll was up to 225.

The magnitude-7.1 quake’s epicenter hit the state of Puebla, about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City, on the 32nd anniversary of the deadly 1985 quake that killed 10,000 people and flattened 30,000 buildings. The magnitude-8.1 quake that struck on Sept. 7 had 30 times the force but did less damage because it was farther away from the densely populated areas of the city.


A year after the ’85 tremor, a new law had been put in place that required more stringent inspections and specifications to take into account the county’s poor soil.

Mexico City in particular was built on the sediment of old lake beds, making for very loose soil that can exacerbate the impacts of earthquakes.

Though the building codes had gotten stricter to take this into account, officials say Mexico’s culture of home-owner repairs and DIY renovations make it probable that either codes were not always met, or buildings that had once been up to code were eventually altered.

“At this point it's going to be difficult to say whether a building has been damaged due to the architecture or the geological variation,” seismologist Susanne Sergeant told BBC News.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said that buildings in 44 locations either collapsed entirely or were badly damaged, including six-story apartment buildings, a supermarket and a factory. One wing of a school was also completely flattened, trapping dozens of children and adults.

The Mexico National Civil Protection System is updating the map of the damages.


Tagged categories: Disasters; Good Technical Practice; Latin America; North America; Safety

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