The Washington Post
Friday, October 1, 1999; Page A25

Earthquake Rattles Mexico City, Resorts

                  Damage Limited; At Least 14 Dead

                  By Molly Moore
                  Washington Post Foreign Service

                  MEXICO CITY, Sept. 30A 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
                  Mexico.

                  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.

                           © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company