An earthquake shakes central Mexico on the anniversary of the 2017 disaster
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An earthquake of magnitude 7.7 shakes central Mexico again five years after the country suffered one of the most serious earthquakes in its history. At 1:14 p.m., for an endless 90 seconds, a earthquake of 7.6 degrees shook the lives of millions of people in the interior and southwest of the country, leaving a balance of 369 dead, more than 7,000 injured and 250,000 homeless.

After the earthquake this Monday, the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, confirmed the first death in Colima, a state in the west of the country, where a person died due to the fall of a wall. The president published on his social networks that the Secretary of the Navy, Jose Rafael Ojedareported that the person died in a shopping center in Manzanillo, Colima, near the epicenter of the earthquake, which occurred 63 kilometers south of Coalcoman, in the neighboring state of Michoacán.

In Coalcoman, in the state of Michoacn, where the epicenter was, there was only material damage confirmed by the state governor, Alfredo Ramrez Bedolla.

According to the SSN, the movement was recorded around 1:05 p.m. local time (6:05 p.m. GMT) with an epicenter 63 kilometers south of Coalcomn, Michoacn.

Since then, more than 70 aftershocks were recorded until 2:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. GMT), with the largest magnitude 7.1, the CNPC reported.

In the center of Mexico City Some buildings were evicted due to the risk of collapse, while in Coalcomn, the Comprehensive Community Hospital of Maruata suffered structural damage.

Meanwhile, in the multifamily of Tlalpan of Mexico Cityone of the buildings that were most affected, reported gas leaks.

In addition, there were more than 40 reports of nervous breakdowns in the 911 emergency number in the capital.

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The 2017 earthquake

Five years after what happened, EL MUNDO visits the ‘ground zero’ of the tragedy to see how its inhabitants try to rebuild their lives after having seen them reduced to rubble.

In general terms, Mexico City was the city that suffered the most damage during the 2017 earthquake but, proportionally, there were other places that fared worse. In Jojutlaa city of just 50,000 inhabitants, died 73 people, there were hundreds of injuries and about 3,000 structuresincluding homes, churches, businesses or public squares, were damaged or completely destroyed. In the days after the earthquake, while media attention and international donations were monopolized by the country’s capital, the inhabitants of this small municipality of Morelos, located 60 kilometers from the epicenter, had to overcome the tragedy with no help other than their own. .

A Yanah Dominguez the earthquake caught him in the shower. She got out as she could, grabbed some clothes and tried to go down the stairs of her house, but the fear and the shaking of her paralyzed her. Strapped to the railing, she remembers with dread that the house “sunk” and the walls “moved and bent like cardboard”. Finally, the structure collapsed and Domnguez was buried by several tons of rubble, “I thought I was dead”recognizes THE WORLD, “I just prayed that it would be painless”. She spent four hours trapped, swallowing smoke and unable to move, until her brother managed to rescue her covered in dust, bruises, several broken ribs and a sprained ankle.

In a minute and a half of shaking, Domnguez lost everything. he was seen forced to live for several months in a shelter and depend on charity for clothing and food. To this day, he still suffers from psychological consequences of what happened: he has recurring nightmares, agoraphobia and it is difficult for him to walk through his old neighborhood. Despite everything, he looks to the future with optimism, he is about to open his new house, built with his savings and the help of the ‘Fundacin chale’. In Jojutla, more than 3,000 families have benefited directly from government and private aid to rebuild their homes after the earthquake.

Antonio and his wife Lupe pose in front of the house that is
Antonio and his wife Lupe pose in front of the house they are gradually building in Jojutla.PABLO SCHEZ OLMOS

‘Project Hope’

The architect Jose Luis Hernandez Bauelos He had never been to Jojutla, but after learning about the damage the city had suffered, he decided to move to lend a hand. When he arrived at the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, he remembers that “there was no stone upon stone, it was an absolute level of devastation, entire streets turned into rubble.” Bauelos then had a great idea: to propose to his students at Anhuac University that they use his final year project on designing homes for the victims. They all accepted. The ‘Hope Project’, as it was baptized, has made it possible to raise 40 houses in Jojutla that benefit 265 people.

The victims only have to pay for the labor, while the design, supervision and materials are paid for by the donors. Bauelos denounces that many constructions in the country “should never have existed” because they are not properly prepared to withstand tremors. In the case of the Zapata neighborhood, he assures that houses were built “in an area with a lot of water, on cultivated fields and without structural calculations.” Fortunately, the houses of the “Hope Project” follow the required safety standards and their tenants can live in peace.

Two months after the tremor, outside a plastic store donated by the Chinese government, vernica bravo confessed to this reporter that, among so much misery, she felt lucky because the tragedy had happened during the day, “if it were to be at night, this whole street would have been a cemetery”. Like many of his neighbors, Bravo and his family were forced to live for almost a year in a tent – at the mercy of the cold and the rain – with no more luxuries than an electric stove and some mattresses on the floor. Five years later, Bravo welcomes us smiling at the doors of his new house built with the support of ‘Proyecto Esperanza’. He admits that it took them a lot of effort and years to finish the house, “we were doing it little by little with our savings, now only the doors to the rooms and some details are missing.”

There were others affected in Jojutla who were not so lucky. Antonio lost his house, three relatives and the hearing of one ear in the earthquake, which caused him to be fired from his job as a watchman. Unlike many neighbors, he was unable to access aid to rebuild his home because the land belonged to someone else. He moved in with relatives and now repairs bicycles at home. With the little he manages to save, he builds a home that, for now, only has a concrete structure, “if we don’t get help, we’ll never finish it,” he admits pessimistically. Local authorities have reported that many victims have earmarked the aid for reconstruction in other things and that many others have been scammed by alleged construction companies that run away with the money.

Reconstructed school Emiliano Zapata de Jojutla.
Reconstructed school Emiliano Zapata de Jojutla.PABLO SCHEZ OLMOS

A modern and sustainable reconstruction

In spite of everything, the municipal president of Jojutla, Juan Ángel Flores Bustamante, is satisfied with the transformation that the city is undergoing. He presumes that his security strategy, based on the use of surveillance droneshas achieved reduce violence rates “by 50% since 2018” and that the reconstruction has given them the opportunity to “rethink public spaces to give them a new image that generates wealth and attracts tourism.” Alberto Kalach, one of the best-known contemporary architects in Mexicohas been one of those who has come to Jojutla to leave his mark.

The creator of the Vasconcelos Library transformed the rubble of the humble and peripheral Emiliano Zapata elementary school into an imposing work of concrete arches and large functional patios that has become the pride of the neighborhood and the envy of others. The German firm ‘Dellekamp/Schleich’ was behind the reconstruction of the Sanctuary of the Lord of Tulaa place with more than 300 years of history that was severely damaged in the earthquake. The end result is an open and modern chapel to which visitors descend via a stepped floor.

The central square of Jojutla, one of the places most devastated by the earthquake, has undergone a profound facelift: traffic has been restricted, green and pedestrian areas have been expandedsy has created a welcoming and inclusive space of exposed brick arches and ample seating plazas. Currently, 90% of the houses and 60% of the historical heritage of the city have been completely rebuilt. The Municipal Palace is one of those that still remains closed, since the federal government has not released all the resources destined for its repair. This September 19 marks five years since the worst day in the history of Jojutla, the ‘ground zero’ of the earthquake that, despite the difficulties, rises from its ashes.


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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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