MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – Mexicans held a minute of silence on Wednesday and performed an emergency earthquake drill to mark the one-year anniversary of devastating quakes that struck the country in September 2017, killing more than 450 people.
Mexicans stood silently in the street with their fists raised aloft just after 1:14 p.m. local time (1814), the moment a quake struck the capital city and surrounding states on Sept. 19 last year.
Quake rescue workers had used the gesture to request quiet as they listened for signs of life below the rubble of fallen buildings.
Just over a minute later, authorities activated quake alarms in Mexico City and office workers began carrying out practice runs for emergency evacuations of buildings. The timing of the drill brought back traumatic memories for many city residents, including children who were at school when the quake struck.
“My daughter came out crying last year, and I think she’s going to be worried again today,” said Adriana Guerrero, waiting for her child outside a school in the wealthy Polanco area of Mexico City as the children and teachers evacuated classrooms.
Even before the disaster last year, another anniversary on the same date had been engraved in the minds of older residents of the capital who remembered a massive earthquake that killed thousands of people in 1985.
The 7.1 magnitude quake hit central Mexico last year hours after a memorial evacuation drill. It killed 370 people, most of them in the capital. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged, and dozens died as a school and offices collapsed.
The tremor shook the country just 12 days after a separate, more powerful earthquake struck off the southwest coast of the country, killing about 100 people.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Nubia Huerta; Editing by Richard Chang)