A magnitude 7.4 earthquake, centered on the Pacific coast, shook large parts of central and southern Mexico on Tuesday.
Although the quake occurred along the coast of Oaxaca, it could be felt more than 400 miles away, in Mexico City.
While the extent of the impact is unclear, at least one person has died, and there were early reports of damage and injuries in Oaxaca’s mountainous areas. Minor damage to some Covid-19 treatment facilities was also reported.
In addition, the United States Geological Service estimated that approximately 2 million people felt strong or moderate shaking from the earthquake, while another 49 million felt weaker shaking. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System said that a tsunami was also a potential threat.
Eduardo Mendoza, who manages Direct Relief’s operations in Mexico, described experiencing the earthquake from his home in Mexico City, where he explained that earthquake alarms gave his family approximately 30 seconds to make it down six flights of stairs and evacuate the building. “You slowly feel this oscillating sort of quake,” he recalled. “The building in front of our house is a little older, and it started cracking and popping, and some bricks fell. That was a little nerve-wracking.”
Mendoza explained that because Oaxaca is a large state with a significant population and a number of rural areas, communications can be difficult. “Even local authorities have a challenging time,” he said.
The state of Oaxaca was already on edge after 15 people were found murdered over Sunday night and Monday morning in San Mateo del Mar, a coastal municipality, Mendoza said.
And a 2017 earthquake, which struck central Mexico and killed hundreds, is still very much top of mind.
Tuesday’s earthquake was “definitely a triggering event,” Mendoza said. “That whole area has been rattled, in the last three years, many, many times.”
Direct Relief has offered assistance to Oaxaca’s health department. The organization will continue to monitor the situation and offer aid as the extent of the earthquake’s impacts become clearer.