Photo: The Canadian Press
People walk to a meeting point on Paseo de la Reforma as part of an earthquake simulation exercise being held to mark the anniversary of two previous deadly earthquakes in Mexico City, Monday, September 19, 2022. Alarm of a real earthquake with a magnitude of 7 .6 came less than an hour after this exercise. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
As the parents of children who died when a school collapsed in the 2017 Mexico earthquake celebrated a mass in remembrance, the ground began to shake again.
“No, not again! My God, not again!” they shouted as a magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook the capital Monday, killing two people in the Pacific coastal state of Colima.
Three powerful earthquakes hit Mexico on September 19 – in 1985, 2017 and now 2022. The unfortunate coincidence has raised fears high among many. The last two quakes also came very shortly after the annual earthquake drill held on September 19 each year to commemorate the devastating 1985 quake.
Mexico’s national civil defense coordinator Laura Velázquez said on Tuesday that the two deaths in Colima were due to the collapse of parts of buildings. Ten people were injured, nine in Colima and one in neighboring Michoacan.
More than 200 buildings were damaged, including dozens of schools and health centers, she said. Most of the damage was in those Pacific states, close to the Michoacan epicenter. About 20 buildings in Mexico City were damaged, but it was minor, she said.
On the morning of September 19, 1985, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the center, south and west of the country, killing some 9,500.
“It’s really strange, but a lot of people already don’t like that day,” said Jorge Ornelas, call center coordinator. He said many of his acquaintances are beginning to worry about an earthquake in September.
“If we keep thinking it’s going to shake every September 19, it’s going to keep happening every year because what you think is always what happens,” said 35-year-old Ornelas.
Xyoli Pérez-Campos, a researcher in the seismology division of the Geophysical Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said there was no physical reason for major earthquakes to coincide in one day. Monday’s earthquake was the result of the “Cocos plate interaction with the North American plate,” which also caused the 1985 earthquake.
Five plates — the North America, the Pacific, the Rivera, the Caribbean and the Cocos — all run under Mexican territory.
“The plates break when it’s their time to break,” Pérez-Campos said. “What are they going to know about the calendar?”