Mexico natural disaster death toll rises as recovery efforts pick up

Michele Moreno
September 11, 2017

The death toll from Thursday's 8.1-magnitude quake off the coast of southern Mexico rose to 61 Saturday as emergency responders worked to clear debris, restore power and provide housing for thousands of displaced people in one of the country's poorest and most remote regions.

Federal civil protection chief Luis Felipe Puente told Televisa three more people were found dead in Chiapas state.

The president said 45 deaths had been reported in Oaxaca, 12 in Chiapas and four in Tabasco.

Two of the states hit the hardest are unfortunately also two of the most impoverished areas in Mexico and home to about 9 million people. But they warned that those figures remain preliminary.

The monster quake was recorded off the coast of Chiapas, southern Mexico, at a depth of 69km about 3pm AEST and was felt as far away as Austin, Texas, more than 2000 kilometres away. The tremors from the quake were felt as far as 1,000 km away from the epicentre, in Mexico City, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center.

Meanwhile, Katia made landfall in the neighbouring state of Veracruz as a Category One hurricane.

At least 90 people killed across the country as emergency workers still look for victims under the rubble.

Dozens of strong aftershocks rattled the region in the following hours.

A powerful aftershock that hit 19 days later caused a tsunami that devastated 15 miles 25 kilometers of coastline, killing 75 people.

On Friday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto ordered three days of mourning in the aftermath of the most powerful natural disaster to hit the country in a century.

In the capital, people ran out of buildings, many in their pajamas, after hearing warning sirens go off just before midnight (0500 GMT Friday). The other, an infant on a respirator, died after the quake triggered a power outage.

Rodrigo Soberanes, who lives near San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, the state nearest the epicenter, said his house "moved like chewing gum".

Pena Nieto said authorities were working to re-establish supplies of water and food and provide medical attention to those who need it. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the magnitude at 8.1, but other institutions rated it between 8.2 and 8.4. He also said that the quake damaged hospitals and schools.

Other reports by Insurance News

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