CNN World News
October 3, 1999

Mexico quake death toll rises to 29

                  MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- The death toll from a major earthquake that
                  hit southern Mexico last week rose to 29 on Sunday as rescuers arrived in
                  remote areas that bore the brunt of the quake, an official said.

                  Esbi Carrasquedo of the Civil Protection agency in Oaxaca said 27 bodies
                  had now been found in the impoverished state following Thursday's quake
                  that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale.

                  "We have 27 dead in the state, 105 injured ... and 10,500 homes damaged,"
                  Carrasquedo told Reuters. "The death count could rise because we are only
                  just today beginning to reach coastal areas that have been cut off. But
                  considering the strength of the earthquake, I think 27 dead is minimal."

                  The temblor was similar in intensity to recent quakes that killed 15,000 in
                  Turkey and 2,000 in Taiwan. But it was far less deadly because it struck in a
                  sparsely populated area of Oaxaca's Pacific Coast and originated deep
                  below ground, U.S. geophysicists say.

                  In Mexico City, one person died of a heart attack apparently brought on by
                  shock. In the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, a woman died when she cracked
                  her skull in a fall while fleeing her house in panic.

                  In coastal areas of Oaxaca, the earthquake brought down the ramshackle
                  adobe huts of Indian peasants, crumbled roads and bridges and severed
                  power lines.

                  Carrasquedo said rescue workers on Sunday began to arrive in communities
                  cut off since Thursday. Many of the villages were near the epicentre, located
                  some nine miles (15 km) offshore from the tourist resort of Puerto

                  Heavy rains in the past days were adding to the misery of quake victims who
                  lost their homes, he added.

                  In the state capital, Oaxaca City, the temblor sent mortar crashing down
                  from colonial buildings and damaged pre-Columbian ruins at the nearby
                  archaeological site of Monte Alban.

                  It was not possible on Sunday to contact authorities at Monte Alban, where
                  experts are inspecting the ancient Zapotec city that looms over the Oaxaca
                  valley from a high hill.

                  But Martha Macree, a linguist and anthropologist at the University of
                  California, noted that the site had survived a many natural disasters.

                  "Monte Alban is an extremely important archaeological site in Mexico. But
                  it's been through a lot in the past couple thousand years and is still standing,"
                  Macree told Reuters.

                  With tombs found to be full of gold, silver and jade jewelry, the
                  25-square-mile (65-square-km) site ranks as one of Mexico's
                  archaeological treasures.

                  Its temples, palaces and pyramids, some displaying Olmec influences from
                  the eastern states of Tabasco and Veracruz, were decorated with intricate
                  frescoes of what have variously been thought to be dancers, prisoners of
                  war or the ceremonies of a sex cult.

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