Mexico mourns dead after 8.1 earthquake

Latin America

Mexico Earthquake An altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe is covered with fallen debris inside the earth-damaged home where Larissa Garcia, 24, lived with her family in Juchitan, Oaxaca state, Mexico, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The family was caught under rubble when the house partially collapsed, leaving Garcia with a broken arm and her father with a head injury. Her mother, who had to be pulled out from underneath a foot-thick section of wall which collapsed on her back, remains in a wheelchair and unable to walk. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Slow-moving funeral processions converged on Juchitan’s cemeteries from all directions on Saturday, so many that they sometimes caused temporary gridlock when they met at intersections.

CGTN’S Franc Contreras reports from Juchitan, Mexico.
Follow Franc Contreras on Twitter @FrancMex

A monster earthquake and a Gulf coast hurricane have combined to take at least 67 lives in Mexico, and no place suffered more than the Oaxaca state city of Juchitan, where 37 died as buildings collapsed in the magnitude 8.1 temblor.

The graveyard swelled with mourners and blaring serenades for the dead — the sounds of snare drums, saxophones and sobbing. Pallbearers carried the caskets around rubble the quake had knocked from the simple concrete crypts.

Jittery amid continued aftershocks, friends and relatives of the deceased had hushed conversations in the Zapotec language as they stood under umbrellas for shade from the beating sun.

Paulo Cesar Escamilla Matus and his family held a memorial service for his mother, Reynalda Matus Martinez, in the living room of her home, where relatives quietly wept beside her body.

The 64-year-old woman was working the night shift at a neighborhood pharmacy when the quake struck on Thursday night, collapsing the building.

He and neighbors tried to dig her out, but weren’t able to recover her body until the next morning when civil defense workers brought a backhoe that could lift what had trapped her.

Fearful of crime, the pharmacy kept its doors locked, and Escamilla Matus wondered if that had cost his mother the time she needed to escape.

Scenes of mourning were repeated over and over again in Juchitan, where a third of the city’s homes collapsed or were uninhabitable, President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Friday in an interview with the Televisa news network. Part of the city hall collapsed.

The remains of brick walls and clay tile roofs cluttered streets as families dragged mattresses onto sidewalks to spend a second anxious night sleeping outdoors.

Power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people due to the quake, and authorities closed schools in at least 11 states to check them for safety.

The Interior Department reported that 428 homes were destroyed and 1,700 were damaged just in Chiapas, the state closest to the epicenter.

Story by The Associated Press

Mexican officials say more than 60 people were killed in the massive 8.1 magnitude earthquake that struck off the country’s southern coast on Thursday. Most of the deaths occurred in the town of Juchitan in the state of Oaxaca. Professor Kevin Furlong of Penn State University joins CGTN’s Susan Roberts to discuss if this magnitude quake could happen again anytime soon.