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Mexico’s 7.7 Magnitude Earthquake Leaves Two Dead

Sep 22, Kathmandu: A strong earthquake that rocked southwestern Mexico left at least two people dead and minor damage in coastal areas shortly after a drill was held to commemorate devastating quakes in 1985 and 2017. 

The earthquake struck around 2:05 p.m. EDT Monday in the southwestern state of Michoacán with a magnitude of 7.7, according to the Mexican seismological service. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude 7.6.

Two people died in the Pacific resort town and port of Manzanillo, in Colima state. One woman died from injuries suffered from a falling wall, and a man was killed when a roof partially collapsed at a shopping mall, Laura Velázquez, the head of the country’s civil protection agency, said Tuesday.

Ms. Velázquez said there was damage to roads, homes, schools, churches and hospitals, mostly in the states of Colima and Michoacán. Injuries to nine people were reported in Colima, and one in Michoacán, she added. The epicenter of the quake was located far from densely populated areas, at a depth of around 15 kilometers.

Michoacán residents posted on social media videos of school children being evacuated, buildings and walls shaking, as well as goods that fell from shelves at supermarkets. 

The quake hit around 45 minutes after the annual earthquake drill was held in a number of Mexican states. The drill takes place each year on the same date as the devastating quakes that rocked the capital city in 1985 and 2017.

The earthquake on Sept. 19, 1985, caused major destruction in Mexico City and left thousands dead. On Sept. 19, 2017, a quake hit central called Mexico soon after the earthquake drill was held, destroying buildings and killing around 370 people, many of them in Mexico City.

Monday’s quake knocked out electricity to around 1.2 million users in five states, the country’s state-owned utility said, adding that 99% of those had power restored by midnight Monday.

Many residents, students and workers across the city left buildings and schools and sought safety on the streets as traffic stopped for the second time within an hour Monday as the seismic alarm system went off again. Some were crying while others hugged or held hands.

“It’s crazy that it shook on Sept. 19, again,” said Isabel Reyes, a 28-year-old executive at a computer company in Mexico City. “Instead of drills, the government should declare the day a national holiday so we can leave the city,” she said, half joking. 

Ms. Reyes said she didn’t have time to leave her apartment in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood, but just sat near a wall and prayed. The Condesa district suffered heavy damage from the 1985 and 2017 earthquakes as dozens of buildings collapsed and trapped hundreds of people. 

Manuel Ramos, a 48-year-old college professor, said he felt his building creak and grind just after returning to class after the drill. “It is a horrible feeling. You just think you won’t make it, and you may die,” he said. He and his students left the school building immediately and were at a nearby park, many still confused and in anguish.