In the past two weeks Mexico has experienced two large earthquakes. Late Thursday, 07 September 2017, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Chiapas. The earthquake caused more than 90 deaths and severe damage to buildings (homes, business, hospitals, etc.) within many areas. (New York Times)
On Tuesday, 19 September 2017, Mexico City was remembering the 1985 8.0M earthquake that tragically killed over 5,000 people. Many buildings throughout the city conducted earthquake drills and were preparing people for what to do in the event of an earthquake.
At approximately 13.15 (local time) a shallow, magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck with the epicenter in the state of Puebla near the town of Raboso (approximately 75 miles southeast of Mexico City). Sadly, early reports indicate over 217 people have been killed, with many more injured. Structural damage in Mexico City and other affected areas include collapsed buildings, damage to gas, water and electric infrastructure, and disruption to roads. Initially the Benito Juarez International airport (MEX) serving, Mexico City, suspended all flights, diverting many travelers to other airports within Mexico. The airport resumed operations roughly 16 hours afterwards.
Current Travel Advice
- Aftershocks of varying magnitudes could pose a risk to life and property and cause further damage to already weakened structures; do not re-enter or access damaged structures.
- Expect damage and disruption in earthquake-affected areas; follow all official directives.
- Localized travel disruption is possible. Liaise with local contacts and reconfirm status of routes before setting out.
Prior planning in earthquake-prone areas will go a long way to mitigate risks. The key is to stay informed and have a readiness plan in mind.
Earthquake Safety Tips
- If you are planning a trip to an area known to have major earthquakes, have an earthquake readiness plan.
- Locate a place in each room of the house that you can go to in case of an earthquake. It should be a spot where nothing is likely to fall on you.
- Pay attention to signs at your universities or places of work that indicate what to do in the event of an earthquake.
- Consider keeping a supply of canned food, an up-to-date first aid kit, 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water per person, dust masks and goggles, and a working battery-operated radio and flashlights.
- Have emergency supplies in stock.
- Know how to turn off your gas and water mains (if applicable).
- If Shaking Begins
- Drop down; take cover under a desk or table and hold on.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops and it's safe to exit.
- Stay away from bookcases or furniture that can fall on you; including mirrors and pictures hanging on walls.
- Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, the fire alarms and sprinklers can go off during a quake.
- If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.
- If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
- If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Stay in the car until the shaking stops.
- After the Earthquake:
- Check for injuries; attend to injuries if needed. Depending on the extent of your injuries, call local emergency services or International SOS.
- Check for damage. If your building is badly damaged you should leave it until it has been inspected by a safety professional. Check with local authorities for a safe shelter.
- If you smell or hear a gas leak, alert individuals around you and get outside. Report the leak to the fire department/emergency services personnel. Do not use any electrical appliances because a tiny spark could ignite the gas.
- If the power is out, unplug major appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on. If you see sparks, frayed wires, or smell hot insulation, you should vacate the area and call local authorities immediately.
- Monitor emails as UT Austin tracks natural disasters and will reach out to those in affected regions. Respond as soon as possible if required. Communicate with those who know you are traveling; communication is key in an emergency situation.
- Contact your loved ones to let them know you are ok.