THE MEXICO EARTHQUAKE
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION CENTER
World Data Center A for Seismology
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The following is from the United States Geological Survey,
Earthquake Information Center: Preliminary hypocenter for
earthquake of 1999 Sep 30, OAXACA, MEXICO: latitude 16.1 degrees north, longitude 96.7 degrees west, origin time 16 31 13.0 utc, depth normal, magnitude 7.5 ms. Some damage and casualties were reported in the state of Oaxaca.
Mexican town near quake's center escapes disaster
By Bill Missett
PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Mexico, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The Mexican beach resort of Puerto Escondido, a mere seven miles (11 kms) from the epicentre of Thursday's earthquake that killed seven people, escaped its worst earthquake in memory with only one death and relatively minor damage.
The temblor measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale rattled nerves and cracked buildings in this sleepy tourist town of 40,000 that is best known as a surfer's paradise for its huge, tubular waves.
It was the strongest earthquake felt here in at least a half century, according to local residents. The 1985 earthquake that devastated Mexico City, killing up to 10,000 people in the capital, had been the strongest felt here in local memory.
``This was much, much stronger,'' said Amado Juarez Luna, who has lived in Puerto Escondido, on the Pacific Coast about 280 miles (550 km) southeast of Mexico City, since the late 1930s.
Local police said a 13-year-old girl died from shock after the quake, and there were numerous minor injuries.
Many buildings suffered minor to moderate damage with tiles roofs askew throughout the town. The most severely damaged building, which was in danger of collapse from aftershocks, houses the local Bancomer bank branch. The two-story building is cordoned off for safety.
Two hotels also suffered structural damage.
Cracked roadbed, collapsed sections of highway and minor landslides made driving hazardous. There was extensive damage in local stores from falling stock and broken glass with food markets suffering the worst.
One supermarket was closed with a major section of its roof facade collapsed. Fallen brickwork could be seen throughout the town. One vehicle was crushed by fallen masonry in the downtown area, where the tallest buildings is four stories.
Almost every home and business in the city suffered broken plaster, glass or brick, but none collapsed as in the similarly powerful recent earthquakes in Turkey or Taiwan that caused massive death and destruction.
The town had been without electricity for several hours after the earthquake struck.
Mexico cleans up after powerful earthquake
By Fiona Ortiz
OAXACA, Mexico, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Authorities turned to the task of cleaning up on Friday following a powerful earthquake that shook parts of Mexico, killing at least 14 people and damaging buildings, roads and bridges.
The impact of the quake was most felt in Oaxaca, one of Mexico's poorest states where many of its residents scrape a hard living from the soil. Oaxaca Gov. Jose Murat said 12 people died in the state, at least one of them killed by falling masonry.
The Televisa network reported 15 dead in Oaxaca and one more in Mexico City, which would bring the toll to 18. It was not possible to confirm the report independently.
Electricity in Oaxaca state was out for several hours as power lines came down. Telephone service also was sporadic in many areas.
The quake, which shook the ground for 42 seconds, hit at about 11:31 a.m. local time (12:31 p.m. EDT/1631 GMT) and measured a preliminary 7.5 on the open-ended Richter scale, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The epicentre was located close to the Pacific coast, 35 miles (56 km) north-northwest of Puerto Angel, in Oaxaca, 310 miles (498 km) southeast of Mexico City, the survey said.
In Oaxaca, schools were expected to be suspended on Friday as authorities prepared to repair damage to buildings. In many countryside schools, modern steel structures used for classrooms were twisted out of shape by the quake and doors no longer closed, teachers said.
The public Hospital Juarez in Oaxaca had to be evacuated because of damage to one wing. Patients were laid out on stretchers and blankets in the reception area.
To add further misery to the people in Oaxaca, the National Weather Service predicted heavy rains in the state. The service said a strong weather system could bring torrential rain to central and southern Mexico.
The Oaxaca state government said up to 100 businesses and shops in Oaxaca city had been damaged, as well as some 400 houses. The Government Palace in the colonial city suffered some cracks, as did churches, schools, roads and bridges throughout the state.
It was believed to be the most powerful quake to strike Mexico since 1985, when a pair of huge temblors killed up to 10,000 people, mainly in Mexico City. Those registered 8.1 and 7.3 on the Richter scale.
Experts said Thursday's quake was strong enough to have caused widespread devastation, but the damage appeared to have paled in comparison to the disasters meted out by quakes in Turkey, Greece and Taiwan in the last two months.
Mexico was last shaken by a significant earthquake on June 16, when 18 people were killed, most of them in the city of Puebla just east of Mexico City. That quake measured up to 6.7 on the Richter scale.
Television networks reported that in Mexico City, one person died of a heart attack apparently brought on by the quake. A women also was reported killed when she ran panic-stricken out of her home in Cordoba in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, and cracked her skull in a fall.
Telmex, Mexico's dominant telecommunications company, said the quake had not damaged its national network though isolated problems were encountered on Thursday near the epicentre.
It added that the problems many Mexicans suffered in placing calls for several hours after the earthquake were due to congestion ``as is natural in these circumstances.''
Victims of Mexican Quake Mourned
By MICHELLE RAY ORTIZ
.c The Associated Press
OAXACA, Mexico (Oct. 1, 99) - Candles on the bare concrete floor of a simple home flickered next to a white casket holding the crushed body of an 18-year-old woman, one of at least 15 people killed in the latest earthquake to strike Mexico.
The preliminary magnitude-7.5 quake shook the southern state of Oaxaca on Thursday and terrified people hundreds of miles from the epicenter. It was felt as far south as Guatemala and sent high-rises swaying strongly in Mexico City.
The teen-ager, Teresa de Jesus Garcia, died while trying to flee from the stationery store where she worked in Oaxaca city. She was the main breadwinner for her family, and co-workers related what had happened.
''They said that when the earthquake happened, the room she was in started shaking and because she was really frightened, she went outside,'' the girl's mother, Bernarda Garcia, said outside the one-room home where dozens of friends and neighbors gathered to mourn Thursday night.
Two other deaths occurred in Oaxaca city, the capital of Oaxaca state, while 11 people died in rural communities there, according to the state government. Most were killed by collapsing buildings. A 12-year-old girl also suffered a heart attack because of the quake, authorities said.
The Oaxaca governor's office said about 20 people were hospitalized. Authorities evacuated buildings in the colonial-era city's center in order to inspect damage. Streets in the area were closed to traffic, and fallen plaster and bricks littered the sidewalks.
The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said the quake was centered between the Pacific resorts of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca state, 280 miles south of Mexico City.
The quake struck at 11:31 a.m. local time (12:31 p.m. EDT) and lasted about a minute. Thousands of people rushed out of offices in Mexico City, where a 1985 earthquake killed at least 9,500 people.
The quake also was felt strongly on Oaxaca's Pacific coast, where wide cracks appeared in roadways, slowing and even blocking some traffic.
''It was very intense. There was panic because we haven't ever felt anything of this magnitude,'' said Norma Alquitra, a spokeswoman for Puerto Escondido.
The Oaxaca state governor's office reported 300 houses seriously damaged in the state and said about 100 businesses were damaged in Oaxaca city. There were scattered reports of cracked buildings in Puebla and Veracruz states, as well as in Mexico City.
Though the quake was almost as strong as the Sept. 21 temblor that killed more than 2,100 people in Taiwan, or the Aug. 17 quake in Turkey that killed nearly 16,000 people, reports of damage here were relatively limited.
The earthquakes in Taiwan and Turkey occurred in heavily populated areas, while Thursday's quake was centered in an area of villages and small towns. Experts also said the Mexican quake was probably centered deeper in the earth than those in Taiwan or Turkey, making it less damaging.
Local news media reported two other deaths they blamed on earthquake panic: A Mexico City man died of a heart attack, and an elderly woman in the eastern state of Veracruz raced from her house, slipped in the street and cracked her head.
Mourners gathered for Miss Garcia's wake Thursday evening stood outside in the mud, fearful that an aftershock could cause the family's home to collapse. The initial quake had knocked plaster off one corner of the brick building.
''Look how it is now, in danger of falling,'' said neighbor Araceli Juarez, pointing to the home.
Inside, children lit candles in front of the casket and stood on tiptoes to peer at the lifeless body of the young woman who supported her mother and grandmother on a weekly salary equivalent to $32.
''She was working to help them live a little better,'' neighbor Trinidad Lopez said. ''Now what? Won't someone offer them a little bit of help?''
US cancels warning of Pacific quake-related waves
WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - U.S. National Weather Service officials (on) Thursday cancelled earlier warnings of possible tidal surges along the Pacific coasts of North, Central and South America.
``A bulletin has been issued that the tsunami warning has been lifted,'' said Delores Clark, a spokeswoman from the NWS in Hawaii.
``We have received information that there is not a significant tsunami. There could be some rise in seal levels,'' she said, but added that any rise was not expected to be significant.
A tidal wave warning had been issued earlier after an earthquake measuring about 7.5 on the open ended Richter scale rocked Mexico.
Clark said the NWS issues warnings of possible tsunamis, or tidal waves, whenever there is an earthquake in the Pacific region more powerful than 7.5 on the Richter Scale.
Gyrating chandeliers, frayed nerves in Mexico quake
By Richard Jacobsen
MEXICO CITY, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The chandelier in a Banco de Mexico conference room swayed gently back and forth. Then, as the thick-walled building began to feel like jelly underfoot, the light started gyrating like a ball on a string.
Staff in the country's central bank headquarters called for calm, confident that the building in the heart of Mexico City's historic centre would withstand Thursday's earthquake as it did the violent temblor that killed thousands in 1985.
Water from one of the elegant four-story building's indoor fountains splashed onto the marble floor, creating a slick hazard for those rushing downstairs to the street.
``We got under our desks, wherever we could,'' said Silvia Ramirez, a central bank employee.
She stood on the sidewalk of 5 de Mayo Street with her colleagues after abandoning the building once the worst of the quake had passed.
Residents of Mexico City know the metropolis's historical centre is the worst place to be in an earthquake, having been built on a gelatinous former lakebed.
Thursday's quake was felt at about 11:31 a.m. local time (12:31 p.m. EDT, 1631 GMT) and measured an estimated 7.5 on the open-ended Richter scale.
It was believed to be the most powerful quake to strike Mexico since 1985 when a pair of huge quakes killed up to 10,000 people, mainly in the capital.
But there were no signs of serious widespread damage to the capital on Thursday. There were initial reports of seven dead, five from falling debris in the southern state of Oaxaca, a heart-victim in Mexico City and a woman who fell and hit her head while running for safety in the gulf state of Veracruz.
Office workers, tourists and shopkeepers fled out of buildings on Thursday, some with their hands shaking with nerves, most complaining of feeling like they just got off a boat in rough seas.
Children in uniform sat on the sidewalk outside their school, some weeping with fright, as they waited to be picked up by their parents.
Men and women in business suits frantically tried using their cellphones to reach their families, but got nothing but busy signals from the saturated local network. Lines formed at payphones, but most could not make a connection.
``The phone went down with the quake,'' said the bartender at the Opera Bar near the Banco de Mexico.
Television network TV Azteca said 118,000 telephone lines had been cut off during the quake. Efforts to reach officials at local telephone giant Telmex met only busy signals.
The earthquake's epicentre was close to the country's Pacific coast, 35 miles (55 km) north-northwest of Puerto Angel, in Oaxaca, 310 miles (500 km) southeast of Mexico City.
Bill Missett, an American retiree living in Puerto Escondido, on the Oaxaca coast, said everything in his pantry fell to the floor and books came tumbling out of the bookcase.
``It was the most sudden earthquake in my life and I've been through probably two dozen of them between here and southern California,'' he said when reached by telephone from Mexico City. ``It hit with a very big shock like a son of a bitch.''
But as calm returned in Mexico City, office workers waited for the all-clear sign to return to their desks. ``We're going back to work,'' Banco de Mexico employee Biliana Alexandrova said.
Big Mexican quakes don't always produce big damage
By Michael Christie
MEXICO CITY, Sept 30 (Reuters) - A powerful earthquake that rattled Mexico on Thursday had all the makings of a major disaster.
At 7.5 on the open-ended Richter scale, the quake off the southern state of Oaxaca outdid August's 7.4 temblor in Turkey, which killed 15,000, and was in the same league as a 7.6 quake which killed more than 2,000 in Taiwan earlier this month.
But preliminary reports showed Mexico may have got off lightly, with seven dead two hours after the earth rumbled.
That's because no two quakes are the same, geophysicists said. Magnitude is one thing. But death and destruction depend on other factors, such as the quake's depth, its proximity to large cities and the type of movement it triggers in the soil.
``The size of the earthquake matters,'' said Waverly Person of the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado.
``But you have to look at the population in Turkey and Taiwan compared with that part of Mexico, and you have to look at how shallow the earthquake is,'' Person added.
The rugged coast of Mexico's impoverished state of Oaxaca is sparsely populated, unlike northwest Turkey or central Taiwan.
Mexico's Puerto Escondido and another nearby tourist resort, Huatulco, have around 20,000 inhabitants each. The closest big city, state capital Oaxaca with 300,000 residents, was around 100 miles (160 km) from the epicentre.
Geophysicist Luis Quintanar of the seismological unit at Mexico City's UNAM university said it was too early to say how much destruction the earthquake had caused as many areas were still cut off from the outside world.
But he noted it was collapsing buildings that killed people and not so much the earthquakes themselves. ``There in the coast, we don't have big cities, just small towns,'' Quintanar said.
Person said Thursday's temblor was around 33 miles (53 km) below the surface, just offshore from Puerto Escondido.
In Turkey and Taiwan, the earthquakes were far shallower - some 6-9 miles (10-15 km) below the surface -- increasing the intensity of the ``shaking.''
Mexico is no stranger to earthquakes. Every year, at least 1,000 -- many so small that no one can feel them -- tear through this Latin American nation of 98 million people.
Most originate off the Pacific coast, where the oceanic Cocos tectonic plate -- a piece of the earth's crust floating on a sea of magma -- is being pushed under the North American continental tectonic plate in a process known as subduction.
The movements of tectonic plates as they go over or under each other, or scrape alongside in opposite directions, can let off enormous forces. In 1985, a great earthquake measuring 8.2 devastated Mexico City, killing about 10,000 people.
But there have been several quakes strong enough to have caused widespread destruction but didn't. In June, a 6.7 temblor hit Mexico near the central city of Puebla and killed 15 people, nothing like the damage in Turkey or Taiwan.
The Puebla quake was also deep, about 44 miles (70 km) under the ground, which partly explains its benign impact.
The string of strong earthquakes around the world this year has triggered speculation about whether they are related, and have provided fodder for doomsayers predicting the end of the world as the millennium nears.
But Person said that impression was misleading. In fact, there had been fewer big quakes this year than the average.
Over the past 15 years, there has been on average one ``great'' quake measuring more than 8.0 on the Richter scale per year and 18 ``major'' quakes of between 7.0 and 7.9.
``So far this year we've had 12 majors and no greats. We are still below the average,'' he said.
Strong Quake Felt in Mexico City
At Least 12 People Reported Killed
By MICHELLE RAY ORTIZ
.c The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (Sept. 30, 99) - OAXACA, Mexico (AP) - A strong earthquake along the Pacific coast rattled much of Mexico on Thursday, damaging hundreds of buildings and killing at least a dozen people.
The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said the magnitude-7.5 quake was centered between the Pacific resorts of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca state, 280 miles south of Mexico City.
A pool of blood on the sidewalk in downtown Oaxaca city marked the spot where 18-year-old Teresa de Jesus Garcia was killed by a stone cornice that fell from a building during the quake in this colonial-era city 220 miles southeast of Mexico City.
Garcia, a stationery store employee, apparently rushed out of the building when the quake struck, only to be crushed by the falling stone outside.
Three other deaths occurred in the city, the capital of Oaxaca state. Two people huddling in a doorway were killed when it collapsed, and another person died under falling debris while fleeing a building.
Some city streets were cordoned off, several buildings were evacuated, and fallen plaster and brick littered the streets of Oaxaca city, a popular destination for foreign tourists.
Mike McDade, an attorney from San Diego, was in the middle of a weeklong vacation in Oaxaca and had just emerged from an underground tomb at the Zapotec ruin site of Dainzu, just outside the city, when the quake hit.
''We were standing on the hillside ... the entire earth started undulating,'' McDade said. ''We could see boulders breaking loose up at the top of the hill. It seemed to go on forever.''
The quake was also felt strongly on Oaxaca's Pacific coast.
''It was very intense. There was panic because we haven't ever felt anything of this magnitude,'' said Norma Alquitra, a spokeswoman for Puerto Escondido.
Fifteen buildings were damaged in the city of 18,000 people, and one person was killed by falling debris. Huatulco's mayor reported only minor damage and ''normal panic.''
At least seven people died elsewhere in the state, according to the state government.
State officials said six people were killed by collapsing buildings in rural communities, and a 12-year-old girl suffered a heart attack because of the quake.
The Oaxaca governor's office said about 20 people were hospitalized with injuries suffered in the quake.
The force and unusual length of the quake, which struck at 11:31 a.m. (12:31 p.m. EDT) terrified many people hundreds of miles from the epicenter. It was felt as far south as Guatemala and very strongly in Mexico City to the north.
''The world is coming to an end!'' a secretary screamed as she and dozens of others ran out of the Oaxaca state legislature building. Workers poured outside in several major cities, then gaped at their visibly swaying office buildings.
Though the quake was almost as strong as the Sept. 21 earthquake that killed 2,100 people in Taiwan, initial reports of damage seemed to be relatively limited.
The Oaxaca governor's office reported 300 houses seriously damaged in that state and said about 100 businesses were damaged in Oaxaca city, most in the historical center. There were scattered reports of cracked buildings in Puebla and Veracruz states, as well as Mexico City.
''All the (emergency) helicopters are flying, but so far they have not found anything especially worrying,'' President Ernesto Zedillo told reporters.
Local news media reported two other deaths they blamed on earthquake panic: A Mexico City man died of a heart attack and an elderly woman in the eastern state of Veracruz raced from her house, slipped in the street and cracked her head.
Federal environmental officials said water and sewage treatment plants were damaged throughout the state, Notimex reported. There were scattered telephone and power outages in many areas.
In Mexico City, thousands of people rushed out of offices in Mexico City, where a 1985 earthquake killed at least 9,500 people.
''Everybody was frightened. It lasted a long time,'' Thalia Martinez said standing among a crowd of office workers on the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard.
But the 27-year-old Mexico City native has lived through a lot. ''It was fairly light,'' she said.
A magnitude-6.7 quake June 15 in a sparsely populated mountain area 165 miles southwest of Mexico City killed at least 17 people and injured nearly 200. More than 7,700 homes were damaged or destroyed, mostly in Oaxaca and Puebla states.
At Least Seven Dead In Mexico Quake
Updated 3:31 PM ET September 30, 1999
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - At least seven people died and several were injured in southern and central Mexico after a strong earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Thursday, state officials and local media reported.
Jose Murat, governor of the state of Oaxaca, told the Televisa network that two women died in a rural town in his state, bringing the death toll to five in impoverished Oaxaca.
"I've just been told about two more deaths. There are five now," Murat said.
Television networks reported that an elderly person died from a heart attack in Mexico City, brought on by the shock of the powerful quake, and another woman died near the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz after falling and cracking her skull.
Nearer its epicenter, 9 miles offshore from the Pacific tourist resort of Puerto Escondido, buildings swayed, windows shattered, roofs collapsed and roads and bridges were damaged, said local police officer Pedro Ramon Moreno.
"Fortunately we only had injuries, between 15-20. People ran out into the streets terrified. It was very strong," he told Reuters by telephone.
Sandra Ramos, a journalist at the Oaxaca newspaper El Imparcial, said some schools were damaged in the state capital, Oaxaca, and several fires broke out. Formato 21 radio reported dozens of homes may have been affected, but authorities told Reuters they were still assessing the damage.
"The preliminary reports that we have do indicate that it (the quake) was very strong but that there was no major damage ... but what we are doing is gathering reports to confirm that," a Civil Defense spokesman said.
U.S. seismology experts measured the quake at 7.5 on the Richter scale, meaning it was capable of causing widespread, heavy damage.
Strong Quake Felt in Mexico City
Buildings Sway for Several Minutes
MEXICO CITY (Sept. 30, 99) - A strong earthquake was felt in Mexico City on Thursday, causing buildings to sway for several minutes. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Hundreds of people gathered along Reforma Avenue and other major thoroughfares in the capital, staring at skyscrapers that were visibly moving. Shattered glass was seen falling from some buildings.
The quake, which hit at about 11:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. EDT), was felt as far south as Chiapas state, 500 miles southeast of Mexico City. It bounced some cars onto sidewalks along Mexico City roads.
In the moments after the quake struck, television news helicopters flew over the city, checking for damage. They did not immediately report any major damage.
Mexico City, . The informaone of the world's largest cities with nearly 20 million residents in the metro area, last suffered a major quake on Sept. 19, 1985 when an 8.1-magnitude quake struck and killed at least 9,500 people.