MEXICO CITY — The death toll from last week’s destructive 7.1-magnitude earthquake in central Mexico has climbed to 333, the government said on Tuesday.
The head of the national civil protection agency, Luis Felipe Puente, said 194 lives were lost in Mexico City, while the remainder in the surrounding or nearby states.
The quake, whose epicenter was located close to Mexico City, knocked down at least 38 buildings in the capital and severely damaged about 500 others. Thousands of other buildings, including schools, require varying degrees of repair.
In many neighborhoods, red and yellow danger and caution tape was strung around buildings and sidewalks, warning pedestrians of loose bricks or deeply cracked facades, which could come falling down with another tremor.
The Sept. 19 quake was the second strong temblor to hit Mexico in less than two weeks. An 8.2-magnitude quake struck off the coast of south Mexico on Sept. 7, swaying buildings as far away as in Mexico City, and claiming 98 lives in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
By Tuesday morning, Mexico’s National Seismological Service (SSN) registered 5,004 aftershocks from the first quake, some as strong as 6.0 on the Richter scale of seismic intensity.
As many as 110,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in the two southern states, leaving about 300,000 people homeless.
Carlos Valdes, head of the National Center for Disaster Prevention, said the high number of aftershocks was due to the quake’s 8.2 magnitude.
“It is so large that … the fractured (plate’s) process of resettling gradually diminishes, causing these aftershocks,” Valdes said in a televised interview.
September’s second quake has registered 39 aftershocks, the SSN said.
In Mexico City, rescue efforts continued at five sites, where buildings collapsed and bodies, or survivors, were still believed to be trapped inside.
According to officials, as of Monday, some 40 people remained unaccounted for. Nearly 25,000 city residents left homeless are at city shelters. (Xinhua)