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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Earthquake and hurricane strike Mexico

At least 96 people have died after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake hit Mexico — a quake that experts are calling the strongest to hit the country in a century.

According to seismologists, the epicenter of the earthquake was off the coast of Chiapas, a state in Mexico near Guatemala. There have been at least 62 estimated aftershocks throughout the country. Officials in Chiapas reported that 16 people have died, and officials in Oaxaca, Mexico, reported that at least 76 people have died.

Mexico’s Gulf Coast was also hit by Hurricane Katia after it made landfall in Tecolutla, Mexico. At least two people have died in a mudslide that was a result of the storm.

Residents of coastal towns in Mexico are starting to evacuate due to the possibility of a tsunami following the seismic activity of the earthquake. The Galapagos Islands have also ordered residents to evacuate due to the warning.

Juchitan, a town in Oaxaca, is predicted to have been the worst-hit town in Mexico, as at least 37 of the 76 deaths in the state were from the town. Juchitan residents have reported rising prices for food and taxi fare, and are now worried about the possibility of food shortages and looting, according to interviews with residents by the Washington Post.

Despite the concerns about food, Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexican state–owned gas company known as Pemex, said that their refinery in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, was automatically shut down for safety reasons. Pemex has also said that their supply will not be jeopardized in any way.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has declared three days of mourning following the earthquake and has promised that the government will provide food and water, offer medical attention and assist residents with rebuilding.

The last earthquake of this size was in 1985 in Mexico City, where a magnitude 8.1 quake killed nearly 5,000 people.

Scientists are worried that an earthquake of a similar magnitude may hit California if any seismic activity happens along the San Andreas fault, as the fault is overdue for an earthquake.

Meaghan McElroy can be reached at mmcelroy@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meaghan_mcelroy