A powerful earthquake that struck Mexico last week has left some 2.5 million people in need of aid and killed 96 others, authorities said yesterday, as officials rushed to get food and water to afflicted communities in the poor south.
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday declared three days of national mourning and pledged to rebuild shattered towns and villages. Oaxaca state governor Alejandro Murat told local television the death toll in his state had risen to 76. He said 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. Sixteen people have been reported dead in Chiapas state and four in neighboring Tabasco. Many of the fatalities in Oaxaca were in the town of Juchitan, where more than 5,000 homes were destroyed.
The quake, the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in over eight decades, was stronger than a 1985 temblor that killed thousands in Mexico City. However, its greater depth and distance kept the capital from being more serious damaged.