7.6 magnitude earthquake shakes Mexico

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A strong 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook several states in western and central Mexico on Monday just after several regions of the country participated in a drill and on the same day that it shook strongly in 1985 and 2017, although on this occasion the balance It was much less lethal.

Hours after the earthquake, only one death had been reported due to the collapse of a structure and one was injured, although the balance was still preliminary. There was structural damage to various buildings, including hospitals, in two Pacific Coast states that were still being assessed Monday afternoon.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred at 1:05 p.m. local time (1805 GMT) with an epicenter between the states of Michoacán and Colima, at a depth of 15.1 km.

“It started slowly and then it was very high, and it went on and on until it started to calm down,” said Carla Cárdenas, a 16-year-old teenager from Coalcomán, the town closest to the epicenter, who was staying at her family’s hotel.

“The roof of the garage cracked and it fell to the ground and there are cracks in the walls of the second floor,” he added in a telephone conversation.

The young woman said that some houses on her street have cracks in the walls and that some facades and part of the local hospital had collapsed, although according to the authorities there were no victims.

The National Civil Protection Coordination asked the population to stay away from the beaches because “anomalous variations in sea level of up to 82 centimeters above the tide level in the region of earthquake generation” and “strong currents at the entrance of the ports”. Shortly after, the Mexican authorities ruled out the possibility of a tsunami, although they remained on alert.

Ireland Villa, from Coahuayana, a coastal town right on the border of Michoacán and Colima, stated that although some fences and walls fell in that town, panic spread because “we feared that the sea was going to come out, but in the end everything right”.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after speaking with the governors of these two entities and with other civil and military authorities, indicated that the only death reported two hours after the earthquake was a person in the port of Manzanillo, in Colima.

According to Laura Velazquez, the national head of Civil Protection, the death was caused by the fall of a structure inside a shopping center. She also pointed out that they had news of an injury in a rural Michoacán hospital and of material damage in two other health centers in the area, which were evacuated, as well as in several churches.

The earthquake was felt in at least a dozen states in the country, including the capital, where there was no serious damage but there were temporary electricity and telephone cuts and many nerves given the symbolic nature of the date.

On September 19, 1985, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the capital and killed at least 9,500 people. That earthquake marked the country so much that the date was chosen to carry out drills and raise awareness among the population that day. But in 2017, after the exercise, the ground shook again. A 7.1 earthquake struck the capital and its surroundings, killing more than 360 people, most of them in Mexico City.

On Monday, history repeated itself.

Scientists claim that it is just a coincidence. “There is no physical reason or statistical bias for there to be earthquakes in a given month in Mexico,” said seismologist Paul Earle of the United States Geological Survey.

There is also no season or month that is more favorable for large tremors anywhere in the world, he added. In addition, she ruled out that the earthquake in Mexico has any relationship with the one registered in Taiwan the day before.

But nervousness spread in many parts of the capital. In some places, the workers had not had time to return to the offices when the insistent buzzing with the voice of “Seismic alert, seismic alert” resounded again and they stayed in the middle of the street trying to communicate with their relatives. Others, like Humberto Garza, only wondered if this time it was real as he held his 3-year-old son in his arms.

In the south of the capital, where a school collapsed in 2017, the tension was greater. The seismic movement interrupted a mass in memory of the 19 children and seven adults who died in that place.

The American scientist added that it is normal for people to ask themselves questions about the repetition of earthquakes on the same date and to find coincidences that look like patterns. “We knew we would be asked this question as soon as it happened,” Earle said. But he insisted: “Sometimes there are only coincidences.” Earthquakes are not predictable.

It is not ruled out, however, that seismic activity could influence the volcanoes in the area in some way.

“If the volcano is in a more or less uneasy situation, an earthquake can modify its behavior and increase activity,” explained geophysicist Carlos ValdĂ©s, former director of the Mexican National Center for Disaster Prevention. “It has been seen in other volcanoes in the world and also in PopocatĂ©petl.”

Both the Colima volcano, near the earthquake zone, and Popocatépetl, east of the capital, are active and periodically exhale ash, as the latter did on Monday. But the two events can only be related by seeing their behavior in the coming days, added Valdés.

Science aside, many inhabitants of Mexico did not cease to be amazed at experiencing a new earthquake on September 19 and since there was no serious balance, some opted for humor. “You were the ones who put in your national anthem: “and let the earth tremble in its centers”, wrote an anonymous twitterer from an account called @dios_padre.

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