A powerful earthquake struck western Mexico on Monday, the anniversary of two devastating earthquakes, killing at least one person, damaging buildings, causing power outages and sending Mexico City residents to safety.
The government said one person was killed when the roof of a department store collapsed in the Pacific port of Manzanillo. Officials also reported damage to several hospitals near the epicenter of the quake in the western state of Michoacan, a sparsely populated part of Mexico. The government said one person was injured when glass fell at a hospital.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said a 7.6-magnitude quake struck shortly after 1 p.m. (1800 GMT or 11.30 a.m. IST) near the west coast and near the Michoacan border with Colima state.
The earthquake was relatively shallow, only 15 km deep, which would have amplified its impact.
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for parts of Mexico’s coast, saying waves could reach 1 to 3 meters above tidal levels.
A powerful earthquake struck western Mexico on the anniversary of two devastating earthquakes, killing at least one person, damaging buildings, power outages, and sending Mexico City residents to safety. https://t.co/JhivwA1z6G pic.twitter.com/emRRpmYvLI
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 20, 2022
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said there were no immediate reports of any major damage in the capital after the quake that ripped through Mexico on the same day as the devastating 1985 and 2017 earthquakes.
“It feels like a curse,” said Isa Montes, a 34-year-old graphic designer in the city’s central Roma neighborhood, at the time of the quake, as helicopters flew over the city surveying the city.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of the country’s most prestigious seats of higher education, said there was no scientific explanation for the three major earthquakes in a single day and attributed it to pure coincidence.
But others could not believe it completely.
“It’s the date. There’s something about the 19th,” said Ernesto Lanzetta, a business owner in the city’s Cuautémoc borough. “The 19th is a day to fear.”
View: A part of a shopping mall collapses during the earthquake in Manzanillo, Mexico pic.twitter.com/VaYoBt94TY
— BNO News (@BNONews) September 19, 2022
Thousands were killed in the September 19, 1985 earthquake and over 350 were killed in the September 19, 2017 earthquake.
Many Mexicans expressed their amazement by posting a series of memes online reacting to the latest earthquake.
Before the first death was announced in Manzanillo, President Andres Manuel López Obrador said that physical damage had occurred near the epicenter of the quake. Images posted on social media showed buildings badly damaged.
Mexican officials said an earthquake warning was issued about two minutes before the quake hit, giving residents time to evacuate their homes.
Still, some in the capital struggled to understand that it was a real earthquake as the government sounded the alarm earlier in the day as part of an exercise remembrance of past earthquakes on the same day.
In Colcomán, Michoacán, not far from the epicenter, photographs show walls of houses and buildings being torn apart by the force of the quake. Goods were scattered on the floor in a shop.
Power went out in parts of Roma, Mexico City, about 400 kilometers from the epicenter. The national electricity utility said the outage hit 1.2 million users.
Roma residents stood in the streets tending pets, while tourists visiting the local market with a guide were clearly confused and upset. Traffic lights stopped working, and people grabbed their phones, sending text messages or waiting for a call.
Clara Ferri, owner of an Italian bookstore in Roma, said she told a customer that as soon as she heard the windows rattle, her senses were attuned to the sound of an earthquake coming after 16 years.
“It was like a dentist’s drill for me,” she said.
The rumble grew in intensity, and as Ferry gathered with neighbors at a crossroads, he looked to see the eight-story building, with his shop going from side to side.
When she returned, the shelves had collapsed like dominoes, leaving over 1,000 books piled on the floor.
Officers closed the sidewalk, which was lined with masonry that appeared to have fallen from the building. Residents tricked out with pets and suitcases, preparing to spend the night elsewhere, and a woman carefully escorted her 89-year-old uncle in his blue-and-white striped pajamas.