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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