By Cristina Sanchez Reyes
Mexico City, Sep 19 (EFE).- A magnitude-7.7 earthquake rocked central Mexico and caused at least one death on Monday, the anniversary of a pair of devastating temblors that occurred in 1985 and 2017.
The quake, whose epicenter was located 63 kilometers (39 miles) south of Coalcoman in the western state of Michoacan, struck at 1.05 pm, according to preliminary information from Mexico’s National Seismological Service (SSN).
That town in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range suffered only material damage, Gov. Alfredo Ramirez Bedolla confirmed.
The SSN listed the quake as magnitude-6.8 but subsequently upgraded its intensity to magnitude-7.4; later, the National Civil Protection Coordination (CNPC) raised the reading once again to magnitude-7.7.
More than 70 aftershocks were registered until 2 pm, the most powerful of which was magnitude-7.1, the CNPC said.
Speaking of the one fatality reported thus far, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on social media that the individual died after a wall collapsed at a shopping center in Manzanillo, a port city in the western state of Colima.
The quake struck less than an hour after alarms had sounded as part of a nationwide earthquake simulation held every Sept. 19 to commemorate the devastating 1985 and 2017 temblors, which occurred on the same date 32 years apart.
The 2017 magnitude-7.1 quake just south of the central city of Puebla is blamed for around 370 deaths, while the 1985 magnitude-8.0 Mexico City temblor left more than 20,000 dead.
Millions of civilians, as well as more than 16,000 police and hundreds of official vehicles participated in Monday’s simulation exercise, in which buildings, homes, schools and workplaces were evacuated to raise awareness about these types of natural disasters.
Ingrid Valdez, one of the participants in the simulation, said the exercise shows Mexicans the procedures they need to follow in case evacuations are necessary and brings to light any possible deficiencies.
In Mexico City, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said no deaths or serious damage occurred in the capital.
But there were reports from ordinary citizens about old, downtown buildings being cordoned off amid concerns about possible structural damage.
Besides Michoacan, Monday’s earthquake also was felt in three southern and Pacific coast states (Colima, Jalisco and Oaxaca) and in three central and Gulf coast states (Morelos, San Luis Potosi and Veracruz).
Just hours before the temblor, Lopez Obrador headed a ceremony to honor victims of the Sept. 19, 1985, and Sept. 19, 2017, disasters.
“We have to keep moving forward, preparing ourselves. Education is key in facing these natural phenomena, preventative (measures),” the president said at his daily press conference. “Because we already know we can count on the solidarity of our people, which is a blessing.” EFE