Major earthquake, floods hit Mexico

Major earthquake, floods hit Mexico

ACAPULCO-Agence France-Presse
Major earthquake, floods hit Mexico

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico on Sept. 7 near the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, leaving at least one person dead and shaking buildings in the capital several hundred kilometers away.

The epicenter was 11 kilometers (seven miles) southeast of Acapulco in Guerrero state, the National Seismological Service reported.

A man was killed when a utility pole fell on him in the nearby city of Coyuca de Benitez, Guerrero state governor Hector Astudillo told Milenio TV.

But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a video message that there were no reports of significant destruction.

"The epicenter was registered in Acapulco, Guerrero. Fortunately there is no damage in that state, no major damage," he said.

Utility poles and other debris fell on a number of vehicles in Acapulco and the facade of a church collapsed, according to an AFP correspondent.

Tourists evacuated hotels as dozens of aftershocks, including at least eight of magnitude 4 or above, rattled nerves.

"I was taking a bath and suddenly I felt a very strong movement and then I was scared and screamed," said a tourist from Mexico City who fled outside in only a bath towel.

"I came with my mom and we’re on the 11th floor of the hotel," he said, hugging his 86-year-old mother, who was crying.

Acapulco Mayor Adela Roman said that the tremor sparked "nervous breakdowns" in the city.

"People are worried because there are aftershocks."

She said that "a lot of gas leaks" had been detected in residential areas.

Authorities in Acapulco opened sports centers for people to sleep in if they were afraid to go home.

A church in the city of Chilpancingo offered refuge to families evacuated from housing that suffered structural damage, the Guerrero civil defense service said.

The earthquake was felt strongly in parts of Mexico City, sending residents and tourists spilling into the streets from homes and hotels.

"I’m very scared. I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight. I’m worried about my daughter. I woke her up to take her outside and I didn’t even put my shoes on," said 49-year-old resident Laura Villa.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage in the capital, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said on Twitter.

Several neighborhoods were left without power and the electricity board was working to restore it as soon as possible, she added.

Flashes of light were seen in the sky above the capital during the earthquake, which hit at a time when Mexico is facing a third wave of COVID-19 infections as well as severe flooding in some areas.

At least 17 patients died after floods swept through a hospital in central Mexico, disrupting the power supply and oxygen therapy, authorities said on Sept 7.    

The facility in the town of Tula in Hidalgo state was inundated after a river overflowed following heavy rain, the government said on Twitter.    

"In this honorable job there are good, very good, bad and very bad days; today is one of the latter days," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tweeted.    

"I am very saddened by the death of 17 hospital patients," he added.    

The hospital was flooded in a matter of minutes, and a power cut disrupted oxygen treatment, said Zoe Robledo, general director of the Mexican Institute of Social Security, which operates the facility.    

The rest of the 56 patients were reported to have been taken to other hospitals.    

According to Mexican media, the victims included Covid-19 patients who needed oxygen therapy to stay alive.    Images showed medical personnel pushing patients' stretchers through the water.    

The government deployed the military as well as water and electricity board workers to deal with the fallout in Tula, which bore the brunt of heavy rains that have drenched swathes of Mexico.    

Two more people died in Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City where flooding turned streets into rivers, officials said.

"A lot of water has fallen throughout the Valley of Mexico (where the capital is located) and it will continue to rain," Lopez Obrador warned.    

"People living in low-lying areas, for now, move to shelters or high places with family or friends," he said.