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  • A resident of Juchitán walks through the rubble left by the 8.1-magnitude earthquake.

    A resident of Juchitán walks through the rubble left by the 8.1-magnitude earthquake. | Photo: EFE

As aftershocks continue to slam communities, residents are digging for survivors and lamenting the slow pace of government aid.

Thursday's 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Mexico has affected about 2.5 million people while the number of deaths currently stands at 96, according to official sources.

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The reports come as aftershocks continue to slam Mexican communities, terrifying residents who are sleeping outdoors rather than returning to homes that took a pummeling in the initial quake. Mexico’s national seismological institute said more than 1,000 aftershocks rattled the area, while the U.S. Geological Survey said that nearly 60 had a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.

Television footage from the southwest state Oaxaca has shown homes and buildings razed by the quake, which struck the narrowest portion of Mexico off Chiapas, on the isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The governor of the state, Alejandro Murat, said there were 71 confirmed fatalities in Oaxaca.

Many of the deaths occurred in the town of Juchitan, where the rush to bury victims is crowding local cemeteries. More than 5,000 homes were flattened in the Indigenous coastal town, which lies a little over 15 miles from Tehuantepec. The town of 100,000 was the hardest-hit in the country, and Juchitecos continue to climb through the rubble, searching for victims amid the shattered glass, rubble, and ground concrete.

"Forty-one municipalities have been affected by this earthquake,” Murat said. “We’re talking about more 800,000 people who potentially lost everything, and some their loved-ones," said Murat, who added that one in 5 of the state's 4-million strong population is feeling the impact of the quake.

Classes in the region will remain suspended "to continue evaluations and avoid risks," according to authorities. Over 320 schools were affected, including 42 that were seriously damaged or destroyed.

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At least 16 people died in neighboring Chiapas, and its Governor Manuel Velasco said about 41,000 houses were damaged in the state's 122 municipalities, estimating nearly 1.5 million people were affected. A further four deaths were also registered in Tabasco state to the north.

Mexico’s government has withdrawn an offer to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas after the quake stretched the resources of its emergency services. The government has coped with heavy rains and the impact from Hurricane Katia on the Gulf state of Veracruz.

The ministry noted that the U.S. embassy had taken nine days to respond to Mexico’s formal offer of aid on Aug. 28, and said that “only certain logistical aid” was accepted. Mexican media highlighted that Trump had not spoken about the quake, which drew pledges of support from the pope and other world leaders, nor publicly acknowledged Mexico’s aid offer.

Following the quake, President Enrique Peña Nieto declared three days of national mourning and pledged that his government remained committed to rebuilding the shattered towns and villages.

Some trucks with government aid delivered bags of simple rations like bottled water and canned food on Sunday, but residents expressed frustration with Peña Nieto's deeply unpopular administration, lamenting how the poor southern regions remain largely neglected by the more affluent northern and central regions of Mexico while the pace of assistance remains slow.

Fifty-six-year-old domestic worker Margarita Lopez lined up for help in an especially hard-hit neighborhood of Juchitan, where almost every home was severely damaged or leveled by the quake.

“Almost nothing has arrived from the government, and we don’t know what else we can do,” Lopez said.


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