By MARK LORENZANA
The death of a second person as a result of the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 19, was confirmed by authorities from the State Civil Protection Agency of the western Mexican state of Colima.
Authorities reported that a person was found dead in the remains of a gym in the city and Pacific port of Manzanillo, and as of Monday night, a rescue team was still in the process of recovering the victim.
Hours after the earthquake, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) wrote on his Twitter account that a woman died, also in Manzanillo, after a building’s facade toppled over her.
Meanwhile, aside from the collapsed roof of a mall in Colima and reported damage to several hospitals in the western state of Michoacán near the quake’s epicenter, authorities detailed more damage to several buildings in Mexico City, chief among them the National Lottery building in Paseo de la Reforma, which was labeled low risk.
A total of 17 buildings in the capital were identified as low risk, while four have been labeled medium risk. The 21 properties registered cracks, and several had collapsed facades and fences. Those identified as medium risk were tagged by authorities as “requiring urgent repair.”
The quake’s epicenter of Coalcomán, Michoacán, registered close to 700 aftershocks, according to Mexico’s National Seismological Service (SSN) in a report published on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The strongest aftershock recorded was at magnitude 5.8, at 1:09 a.m. on Tuesday, reported 72 kilometers south of Tecomán, Colima. The rest of the aftershocks have been of small magnitudes, between 2.9 and 4.8.
José Luis Mateos, a physicist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) said there was no scientific explanation for three major quakes on the same day, in different years, and estimated the probability of that happening at only 0.000751 percent.
Despite UNAM attributing all three earthquakes to pure coincidence, however, history repeated itself on Monday, but neither that quake nor the one in 2017 had been as devastating as the one in 1985, which killed at least 10,000 (although unofficial figures peg the casualties at 50,000) and toppled more than 800 buildings in Mexico City alone.
The 8.1 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 19, 1985, hit Mexico at 7:17 a.m., with the epicenter near the mouth of the Balsas River, off the Pacific coast of Michoacán. Property damage amounted to $5 billion, with the collapse of buildings including hotels, hospitals, schools and businesses.
Mexico is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. After an earthquake in 1957, the seismic standard of the then-Federal District (now Mexico City) was created in order to classify the areas at most risk for earthquakes.
Lake Texcoco was classified as the most dangerous, which geographically covers the trendy Condesa neighborhood to the municipality of Texcoco in the State of Mexico (EdoMéx), as well as the neighborhood of La Villa (where the Basilica of Guadalupe is located) and the borough of Xochimilco, which is known for its canals and the famed Lake Xochimilco.