Things That Matter

Mexico Was Rattled By A Massive Earthquake And This Is What It Was Like In The Country’s Capital

Mexico woke up today to the sounds of sirens which gave way to intense shaking from the southern state of Chiapas to the capital, Mexico City. Although the country is no stranger to strong earthquakes, the trauma of 2017’s massive quake is still raw and sent many residents into a state of panic as the alarms sounded.

Here in Mexico City, the shaking was intense despite being some 300 miles from the epicenter of the 7.4 quake – which was located in Oaxaca. At least one death has been attributed to the quake, millions are without power, and millions more are wondering when the next one will hit.

Note: this is a developing story and we will update it as more information becomes available.

A preliminary 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the southern coast of Mexico and was felt throughout the region.

Credit: Tomas Bravo / Getty Images

Mexico has been hit by a large earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4, centered along the coastline of southern Oaxaca state. Although the epicenter was some 300 miles from the capital of Mexico City, strong shaking was felt in the nation’s capital – as well as as far away as Veracruz, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The quake has knocked out power to millions, damaged several buildings, and triggered tsunami warnings up and down the Mexican coastline.

A report from Reuters said that at least one person was killed in Oaxaca as a result of the quake.

In Mexico City, residents fled their homes for the relative safety of the streets amid violent shaking.

Credit: Tomas Bravo / Getty Images

Living in Mexico City, I can confirm that the shaking was super strong here in the capital – especially in Colonia Roma. Many had to scramble to their knees to avoid falling over or to hold onto a car or building to steady themselves amid the strong shaking.

More than anything, it was also a very loud earthquake. The sound of the earth underneath a massive city shaking violently is extremely loud and almost as terrifying as the actual shaking.

For almost an hour after the initial shaking, many residents were still outside in the streets, too afraid to go back inside their homes. And with good reason – as of early afternoon there have already been more than 150 aftershocks.

Standing outside among my neighbors, one thing was painfully obvious: the trauma of the 2017 earthquake is still fresh on many people’s minds. Many were scared to tears.

Videos of the shaking quickly made their way onto social media.

From buildings swaying into each other, the ground moving beneath people’s feet, and the inside of people’s homes being violently tossed from side to side, videos of the quake have quickly gone viral.

One such video showed a hospital in Mexico City suffering extensive damage as it was violently shaken from side to side.

One thing is for sure: the city’s earthquake warning system worked perfectly.

Most of Mexico City is equipped with an early earthquake warning system. And it can be credited for saving lives. In my neighborhood, La Roma, we had a good 30-45 second warning before the shaking actually began. In fact, the alarm gave us so much warning that many of us thought it was just a test – because in the past the shaking typically starts just mere seconds after the alarm.

Since the 2017 earthquake, which killed hundreds, Mexico has been hard at work at fine tuning the alarm system. They have invested some 450 million pesos ($20 million USD) into additional sensors and sirens strategically placed around populated areas to better alert residents – and it seems to have paid off.

Mexico is no stranger to strong quakes – having been hit by even larger ones in 2017 and 1985.

Credit: Luis Alberto Cruz Hernandez / Getty Images

Mexico is one of the world’s most seismically active regions and has a long history of devastating earthquakes. The country is located on top of three large tectonic plates and their movement causes regular quakes and occasional volcanic eruptions.

In 2017, two powerful earthquakes hit the country in two weeks, toppling buildings, cracking highways and killing hundreds of people. One had a magnitude of 7.1 and the other a magnitude of 8.1.

Meanwhile, the nation’s capital – Mexico City, is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it was built on a former lakebed. Most of the city’s 20 million residents live above very soft and wet ground which amplifies shaking and is prone to liquefaction, in which dirt transforms into a dense liquid when sufficiently churned. This is why even weaker earthquakes are often felt more strongly in Mexico City than other parts of the country.

Despite the large earthquake, Mexicans are taking it all in stride and a string of memes have already hit the Internet mocking the ridiculousness of 2020.

In a matter of minutes, memes depicting just how crazy 2020 is – from COVID to earthquakes – had already taken over Mexican Twitter.

And if this one isn’t all too real:

Given the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, this one is super relatable. As I ran out of my apartment to the street, I had to run back inside to grab that mask. #SafetyFirst

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Seniors In Mexico City Turned Their Wait For The Vaccine Into A Disco Dance Off

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Seniors In Mexico City Turned Their Wait For The Vaccine Into A Disco Dance Off

CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images

Last week, Mexican officials launched the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program by beginning to vaccinate those 65 and over. But, just like in countries around the world, the roll out hasn’t exactly been ideal. Many residents in the nation’s capital have reported waiting in line for hours for their vaccine, with some even being forced to camp out overnight to make sure they receive their shot.

Despite the long waits, many seniors are turning the headache into something fun by having impromptu dance offs and even yoga classes.

Seniors lined up to get vaccinated turned the wait into a fun dance off to pass the time.

As Mexico begins vaccinating the general public – after months of giving vaccines to public health workers – seniors, who are first in line, are facing immense lines at vaccination sites across the country.

To help pass the time, many of those waiting in line have tried to make the wait more bearable by dancing to tunes such as disco classic “I Will Survive.”

Healthcare workers outside a vaccination center in a Mexico City suburb got the festivities started by encouraging those waiting for a Sputnik V shot to cut a rug in the street as music played over a sound system. One of the workers even belted out a few songs over karaoke backing tracks to entertain the seniors, some of whom had begun lining up on Wednesday night.

Many seniors lined up didn’t mind the wait since they were grateful for the vaccine.

Despite the hours long wait – with some even camping out overnight to ensure their access to the vaccine – many of those waiting were simply grateful for the shots.

With tears in his eyes, 67-year-old Juan Mario Cárdenas told Reforma that he has lost friends to Covid-19 and that getting vaccinated was a matter of life and death for him. He is one of almost 200,000 people in the Mexico City boroughs of Iztacalco, Xochimilco and Tláhuac who are expected to receive a first shot of the Sputnik V vaccine by the end of next week.

The country is rolling out its vaccination program using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Inoculation with the Russian vaccine began in the capital – the country’s coronavirus epicenter – on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the first AstraZeneca shots were given to people aged 60 and over in several of the city’s most affected suburbs.

About 1.9 million vaccine doses had been administered in Mexico as of Wednesday night, mainly to health workers and seniors. The government expects to receive more than 100 million doses from several companies by the end of May.

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