Mex­i­cans mourn earth­quake dead

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL - The As­so­ci­ated Press

JU­CHI­TAN, Mex­ico — 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.

A mon­ster earth­quake and a Gulf coast hur­ri­cane have com­bined to take at least 66 lives in Mex­ico, and no place suf­fered more than the Oax­aca state city of Ju­chi­tan, where 36 died as build­ings col­lapsed in the mag­ni­tude 8.1 tem­blor.

The grave­yard swelled with mourn­ers and blar­ing ser­e­nades for the dead — the sounds of snare drums, sax­o­phones and sob­bing. Pall­bear­ers c ar­ried t he c as­kets 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 t he 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 de- fense work­ers brought a backhoe that could lift what had trapped her.

Fear­ful of crime, the phar­macy kept its doors locked, and Es­camilla Ma­tus won­dered if that had cost his mother the time she needed to es­cape.

Scenes of mourn­ing were re­peated over and over again in Ju­chi­tan, where a third of the city’s homes col­lapsed or were un­in­hab­it­able, Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto said late Fri­day in an in­ter­view with the Tele­visa news net­work. Part of the city hall col­lapsed.

The re­mains of brick walls and clay tile roofs clut­tered streets as fam­i­lies dragged mat­tresses onto side­walks to spend a sec­ond anx­ious night sleep­ing outdoors. Some were newly home­less, while oth­ers feared fur­ther after­shocks could top­ple their cracked adobe dwellings.

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