Safety drills held hours before Mexico earthquake struck on anniversary of 1985 disaster

Exactly 32 years before, Mexico’s deadliest earthquake struck killed thousands and devastated large parts of the capital

world Updated: Sep 20, 2017 12:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mexico earthquake,Mexico,Mexico City
Soldiers, rescuers and people work at a collapsed building after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico.(Reuters Photo)

Hours before the 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico on Tuesday, workplaces across Mexico City held safety drills on the anniversary of the deadly 1985 disaster.

Exactly 32 years before, Mexico’s deadliest earthquake killed thousands and devastated large parts of the capital.

In that tragedy, too, ordinary citizens played a crucial role in rescue efforts that overwhelmed officials.

The annual safety drill began in Mexico City around 11am on Tuesday, two hours before the earthquake, CNN reported. Alerts were sounded on the radio, television and loud speakers, and residents left for designated safe areas.

Picture of the damages caused on a building by a powerful quake in Mexico City. (AFP Photo)
People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City. (AP Photo)

Univision Network reporter Janet Cacelin wrote in a first person account that while going outside during the earthquake, she saw the same office workers who were chatting, playing and getting bored during the drill. “Many said it was a waste of time,” Cacelin was quoted as saying in her article.

The powerful magnitude-8 temblors in 1985 had prompted authorities to reform building codes and strengthen emergency preparation, said CNN.

A woman reacts outside a collapsed building after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico. (Reuters Photo)

Tuesday’s earthquake also came less than two weeks after another powerful quake caused 90 deaths in the country’s south.

Dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed sickeningly.

In a scene reproduced in streets across the city centre, dozens of people scrabbled with bare hands to remove rubble from atop a concertinaed building as they waited for specialized machinery to arrive.

Police called for calm and cordoned off streets with grotesquely twisted buildings, their reinforcing steel poking out from concrete.

People hugged and comforted each other amid anxiety about loved ones. Many stood around in a daze, not sure where to go or what to do.

But everyone was staying in the streets, afraid to go home.

(With agency inputs) 

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 12:11 IST