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  • Over 98,000 buildings were partially or completely destroyed in Mexico City by the 1985 earthquakes.

    Over 98,000 buildings were partially or completely destroyed in Mexico City by the 1985 earthquakes. | Photo: AFP

Sept.19 marks 30 years since the deadly quake in Mexico City killed at least 10,000 people and completely destroyed 30,000 buildings. 

About 7.4 million people and 2.2 million homes in Mexico City are at high risk in the case of a powerful earthquake, local officials said ahead of the 30th anniversary of the deadly quakes of Sept. 19 and 20 which left over 10,000 people dead.

Carlos Valdes, head of the National Center for Disaster Prevention (Conapred), said that 334 health centers and 5,210 schools are also at high risk, as they are located in the seismic zone 3, which is built on a very marshy underground.

The official said that given these figures, the government needs to again urgently put in place measures to strengthen the institutions in charge of disaster prevention and assistance.

“Only by transforming the earthquake knowledge and by strengthening policies and public measures will we see a benefit toward minimizing the effects of earthquakes,” he said.

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Valdez said that since the massive earthquakes of 1985 Mexico has been transformed with progress in the construction sector, the installation of sensors and early alert systems.

Mexico City and the surrounding metropolitan area is one of the most populated in the world with over 22 million inhabitants.

The Sept. 19 earthquake was reported to be about 8.4 magnitude, but the most dangerous aspect of the movement was that it lasted for about two minutes and the fact that it was trepidatory and oscillatory. Earthquakes are more commonly either one or the other, but when both movements come into play, it increases the level of destruction, as both waves collide with each other.

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The government places the official death toll at 3,200, but those journalist who saw where the bodies were being concentrated, say it was more like 10,000 and possibly 30,000. Over 30,000 buildings were completely destroyed, 68,000 others, partially. At least 150,000 jobs were lost to the earthquake.

On the evening of Sept. 19, about 12 hours after the quake, dump trucks full of bodies could be seen taking remains of victims to mass graves.

"That morning, the Mexican society faced a situation it wasn't aware of before. The hand of one person assisted another, and the people were able to emerge and stand up to continue walking in Mexico City,” said Luis Felipe Puente, head of the National Civil Protection.



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