World & Society

Disaster in Mexico DF: an update and how to help

On September 19 at around 2 o’clock, Mexico City and its surrounding areas were hit with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The epicentre of this earthquake was found in the neighbouring state of Puebla. While the magnitude of this earthquake may not be of much concern other countries that are already well-prepared to such disasters, such as Japan and Chile, the current reality in Mexico is certainly worrying.

A couple days before the 7.1 earthquake, on September 7, the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas were hit by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that killed approximately 100 people. Unfortunately, Oaxaca was once again a victim to an aftershock of 6.1, which destroyed more homes that had survived the first earthquake.

There are already more than 300 deaths confirmed from the 7.1 earthquake that hit Mexico City. There are plenty of videos of witnesses and survivors of this disaster, showing swaying buildings and people running away from weakening infrastructures seconds before they collapse. By now, the death toll in all of Mexico is already close to 400.

Older generations remember the earthquake of 1985 that killed approximately 10,000 people in the capital, which also happened at around the same time of the year. Many citizens have also taken up the responsibility to help out rescue forces by providing food and additional help. There have been reports of neighbours helping one another by providing shelter and food to victims of the earthquake. However, the most necessary action that should be taken right now is to review building regulations to ensure that future disasters lead to a smaller death toll. Furthermore, it is necessary to start worrying about reconstructing the houses and buildings that were destroyed during the earthquakes.

In spite of Mexico’s international reputation of violence in urban areas, drug cartels, and political corruption, Mexicans demonstrate their solidarity in helping one another in times of need like this. It is always necessary to remember the importance of helping one another in such situations, and Mexicans have shown that they are stronger together than apart.

In regard to international response, Israel, Japan, Panama, and Chile have already sent help. These countries, especially Japan and Chile, have also been hit with devastating earthquakes in the past and are well-prepared to provide aide to Mexico. More importantly, the US has also sent help in spite of tense relations between the two countries. This help comes after criticisms of Trump for not sending help immediately after the first earthquake in Oaxaca and Chiapas. Most of this help comes as a result of the large population of Mexican Americans, immigrants, and those who cross the border on a regular basis.

Additionally, it is necessary to note that Mexico City is built over man-made islands, as it was built over the former capital of the Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan. Remainders of the Aztec capital are still found around Mexico City in the form of canals for transportation, and in the fact that many buildings are already sinking into the swamp. The earthquake adds on to this phenomenon that is already worryingly enough to Mexico City.

The earthquakes in Mexico are already adding on to the hurricanes affecting the Caribbean islands, indicating that climate change is once again affecting developing and underdeveloped areas. If you are interested in donating to organizations in Mexico, here are a couple useful links. I have included links in both English and Spanish:

Topos (the website is in Spanish, but they accept donations in any currency):

Mexican Red Cross (the website is also in Spanish):

Direct Relief:

Global Giving:

Additionally, if you are interested in donating to help the victims of the Hurricanes in the Caribbean Islands, here are some useful links:

Unidos Por Puerto Rico:

Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund:

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Hurricane Relief Fund:

Caribbean Tourism Organization:

Furthermore, the Lonely Planet provides a list of island-specific relief funds in addition to the ones listed above.

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