Cap­i­tal’s vi­brant spirit rat­tled by quake but in­tact

Sunday News - - WORLD -

MEX­ICO CITY Ar­riv­ing in Mex­ico City af­ter an ab­sence of a few days is to ar­rive to a town trans­formed. It re­mains a vi­brant, dy­namic metropo­lis, but there is an over­whelm­ing sense of ur­gency and dis­quiet sev­eral days af­ter an earth­quake left scores dead and thou­sands home­less.

Pedes­tri­ans wan­der res­i­den­tial streets once choked with traf­fic. Yel­low tape marks off blocks where build­ings have top­pled or may be on the verge of tum­bling.

‘‘Gas!’’ shouts a po­lice of­fi­cer on a roped-off street in the hard­hit Con­desa dis­trict, a hip quar­ter that has been abruptly trans­formed into dis­as­ter cen­tral. ‘‘We have a gas leak! Turn off your phones! No cig­a­rettes!’’

Tree-lined Am­s­ter­dam Av­enue has a calm-af­ter-the-storm feel­ing. Rub­ble-strewn build­ings with gap­ing cracks are roped off. Peo­ple gawk from be­hind po­lice cor­dons. Makeshift vol­un­teer stands of­fer free wa­ter and bat­tery charges for cell­phones.

From time to time, a whis­tle and hands-up sign rep­re­sents a sig­nal for ev­ery­one to be quiet. Res­cuers are lis­ten­ing for signs of life in­side col­lapsed struc­tures.

Evac­u­ated res­i­dents min­gle with vol­un­teers, po­lice and others who have come for a look. Many of the dis­trict’s trendy restau­rants have closed, at least for now. But others of­fer free food.

The spirit of sol­i­dar­ity is ubiq­ui­tous and in­fec­tious.

Plaza Popocateptl, a tree­shaded is­land with a foun­tain that is usu­ally a tran­quil refuge in the megac­ity, is now a hub of ac­tiv­ity. Picks, shov­els, bas­kets of food, bot­tles of wa­ter and other items oc­cupy the foun­tain. Men and women in hard hats, mul­ti­coloured vests and dust masks dart about with pur­pose. From tents, vol­un­teers dis­trib­ute free food and cloth­ing. Many who are home­less, or afraid their homes may yet col­lapse, sleep in tents.

Wan­der­ing the streets of Con­desa and the ad­ja­cent Roma neigh­bour­hood, both of which suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age, one en­coun­ters a dis­tinctly up­beat, al­most small-town air.

One res­cue worker robot­i­cally waves a Mex­i­can flag from atop a bronze statue.

‘‘This is Mex­ico,’’ says Deyanira Apari­cio, 39, who was among those who made the trek to REUTERS hand out food and drink. ‘‘This is our spirit.’’ LA Times

Mari­achi mu­si­cians per­form at Mex­ico City’s Garibaldi Square yes­ter­day to en­cour­age peo­ple to do­nate sup­plies to help the vic­tims of Mex­ico’s dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.