On Tuesday, June 23rd, I was enjoying a peaceful breakfast at my friend’s apartment in Mexico City. We had gone for the weekend from Cuernavaca to celebrate Father’s Day.
The temperatures had been chilly at night, so I was wearing the thick winter socks I had wisely packed. I was showing my friend the socks, and we were discussing the weather. Looking through the window, he made a comment: “Interesting, there seems to be no wind at all just now.”
Suddenly, the sound of an alarm shrilled through the air. My immediate thought was there was a fire, but my friend and his father immediately yelled, “There’s an earthquake, hurry!” I grabbed his father’s walking stick and stepped through the door without shoes. We had to rush downstairs — luckily just two floors and also helped his dad to make sure he wouldn’t fall.
The neighbors were running downstairs next to us. Once we made it safely outside, we gathered at the playground. As I caught my breath, I observed people’s reactions. There was fear in their eyes.
They stared at the building, perhaps praying for the safety of their homes. We held onto the playground bars, while the earth was again shaking violently, and it stopped after what seemed an eternity.
We waited a bit while making conversation with the neighbors. One of them, an older woman, was terrified and unable to breathe properly. She said that after the 2017 earthquake, she put wind chimes in her home, so they could alert her to any earth movement.
Concerned for my friend’s Father because of the aftershocks, we stayed another night in Mexico City. Luckily, the aftershocks were small in comparison. When we came upstairs, there was no electricity. The outage lasted for 3 hours, and we could not use our phones either, because the lines were dead. After an hour, I could finally message my parents via WhatsApp.
We calmed ourselves down, playing some board games. I started asking questions: how often does it happen? There is an earthquake alarm? Is it installed throughout the country? I had not done my research regarding earthquakes in Mexico. I only had experienced a mild quake in Colombia when I was a kid.
A 7.4 Magnitude Earthquake in Mexico
When we watched the news, we found out it had been a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico’s southern coastline.
The epicenter was 6.8 miles southwest of Santa Maria Zapotitlán in Oaxaca state, near El Coyul.
Mexico has a long history of earthquakes because it lies between two seismically active earthquake zones; the Pacific and North American Plates in Baja California, while Southern Mexico stands just north of the frontier between the Cocos and Rivera tectonic plates and the North American plate.
The strongest known tremor took place in 1787. It had a magnitude of 8.6, followed by the 2017 earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2, killing at least 360 people, and the horrible quake of 1985, when nearly 10,000 people lost their lives.
My friends say, September is earthquake season in Mexico; I am yet to experience that and hope it is manageable.
Did you experience something similar? What do you think needs to be in place to make you feel safe while being away from your family?
Keep an eye out, here on TCI, for up-to-date articles about Mexico. Get in touch with our in-country TCI Alliance members for reliable and current information.
By Tatiana Moreno