Earthquake Rattles Mexico City, Resorts
Damage Limited; At Least 14 Dead
By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
MEXICO CITY, Sept. 30—A powerful earthquake rattled Mexico City
office towers and damaged hundreds of adobe houses in the Pacific Coast
state of Oaxaca today, leaving at least 14 people dead across southern
Damage from the quake, which registered a magnitude of 7.5, was not
widespread. But the tremors sent hundreds of thousands of frightened
people into the streets of cities and villages from West Coast resort
communities to the downtown business district of the capital.
Nine of the reported deaths occurred in Oaxaca. The victims included two
women whose house collapsed on them, a man killed by falling debris as
he ran from his office and a 9-year-old girl who died of a heart attack,
according to Oaxaca Gov. Jose Murat Casab.
An elderly woman in Mexico City also died of a heart attack, and a
70-year-old woman in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz died when her
head hit the street after she tripped while fleeing her house, according to
Mexican radio reports.
In Mexico City, thousands of terrified office workers poured into the main
streets as office buildings swayed above them and sidewalks heaved
beneath their feet. In some neighborhoods, the force of the earthquake
bounced parked cars onto sidewalks.
Although earthquakes are common in southern Mexico, today's 11:30 a.m.
tremors prompted high levels of panic because of the force of shock waves
that continued for several minutes and heightened fears due to recent
earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan.
The earthquake's epicenter reportedly was between the Pacific Coast
resort towns of Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, about 275 miles
southeast of Mexico City. An estimated 400 houses and nearly 70 miles of
highways were damaged in Oaxaca, according to the governor's office.
The quake left cracks in the walls of the historic building that houses the
state government offices in the capital city, also called Oaxaca, according
to state officials.
The state was left without telephone communications for about 45 minutes
following the earthquake, Murat said in a radio interview.
Today's earthquake was the second major tremor to hit Mexico in less
than four months. A June 15 temblor measuring 6.7 left 17 people dead
and damaged thousands of buildings, including many historic churches in
the south-central state of Puebla. Mexico's deadliest earthquake in modern
times occurred Sept. 15, 1985, when a temblor with a magnitude of 8.1
killed at least 9,500, most of them in Mexico City.
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