Mex­ico Rushes Aid to Mil­lions Af­ter Huge Quake; Death Toll at 96

The Jewish Voice - - INTERNATIONAL - By: Wal­ter Me­tuth

Apow­er­ful earth­quake that struck Mex­ico last week has left some 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple in need of aid and killed 96 oth­ers, au­thor­i­ties said on Mon­day, as of­fi­cials rushed to get food and wa­ter to af­flicted com­mu­ni­ties in the poor south.

The earth­quake trig­gered a 1-me­ter-high tsunami, ac­cord­ing to the Pa­cific Tsunami Warn­ing Cen­ter, but there were no re­ports of tsunami dam­age.

The quake was felt as far away as Mex­ico City and Gu­atemala City. Res­i­dents of the Mex­i­can cap­i­tal fled into the streets, many in their pa­ja­mas, for fear build­ings would col­lapse.

Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto has said the earth­quake was big­ger than a 1985 earth­quake in the coun­try that killed thou­sands. In a tele­vised ad­dress Fri­day evening, he de­clared three days of na­tional mourn­ing and promised that the gov­ern­ment will help re­build.

Teams of sol­diers and fed­eral po­lice armed with shov­els and sledge­ham­mers fanned out across neigh­bor­hoods to help de­mol­ish dam­aged build­ings. Other groups dis­trib­uted boxes of food.

"The power of this earth­quake was dev­as­tat­ing," Pena Ni­eto said, but added that Mex­ico's re­sponse "will be greater."

Slow-mov­ing fu­neral pro­ces­sions con­verged on Ju­chi­tan's ceme­ter­ies from all di­rec­tions on Satur­day, so many that they some­times caused tem­po­rary grid­lock when they met at in­ter­sec­tions. The grave­yard swelled with mourn­ers and blar­ing ser­e­nades for the dead — the sounds of snare drums, sax­o­phones and sob­bing.

Pall­bear­ers car­ried the cas­kets around rub­ble the quake had knocked from the sim­ple con­crete crypts. Jit­tery amid con­tin­ued af­ter­shocks, friends and rel­a­tives of the de­ceased had hushed con­ver­sa­tions in the Zapotec lan­guage as they stood un­der um­brel­las for shade from the beat­ing sun.

Paulo Ce­sar Es­camilla Ma­tus and his fam­ily held a memo­rial ser­vice for his mother, Rey­nalda Ma­tus Martinez, in the liv­ing room of her home, where rel­a­tives qui­etly wept be­side her body.

The 64-year-old woman was work­ing the night shift at a neigh­bor­hood phar­macy when the quake struck Thurs­day night, col­laps­ing the build­ing.

"All the weight of the sec­ond floor fell on top of her," said her son, who rushed to the build­ing and found her un­der rub­ble. He and neigh­bors tried to dig her out, but weren't able to re­cover her body un­til the next morn­ing when civil de­fense work­ers brought a back­hoe that could lift what had trapped her.

Res­cuers searched for survi-

vors with snif­fer dogs and used heavy ma­chin­ery at the main square to pull rub­ble away from city hall, where a miss­ing po­lice of­fi­cer was be­lieved to be in­side.

Oax­aca state gover­nor Ale­jan­dro Mu­rat told lo­cal tele­vi­sion that pre­lim­i­nary re­ports showed that at least 12,000 homes were dam­aged, and warned the num­ber was likely to rise.

Mu­rat said 1 mil­lion peo­ple in Oax­aca needed food, wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and help re­build­ing dam­aged homes, while in neigh­bor­ing Chi­a­pas state, which was clos­est to the epi­cen­ter of the tremor, 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple were af­fected, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

"We are united in fac­ing this hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis," Mu­rat said.

The 8.1-mag­ni­tude quake off the coast of Chi­a­pas rat­tled Mex­ico City and sowed de­struc­tion across the nar­row­est por­tion of Mex­ico on the isth­mus of Te­huan­te­pec.

Hum­berto Cruz stands in­side his house de­stroyed by the earth­quake that struck the south­ern coast of Mex­ico late on Thurs­day, in Ix­tal­te­pec, Mex­ico, Sept. 10, 2017.

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