Fourteen of the 33 municipalities in the state of Morelos reported damages in yesterday’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake with at least 71 deaths recorded, the second highest toll after Mexico City.
The worst affected were Jojutla, Cuernavaca and Axochiapan, state Interior Secretary Matías Quiroz said.
In Jojutla, situated about 50 kilometers south of the state capital Cuernavaca, whole streets were destroyed and local residents reported that hundreds of homes had been damaged. At least 16 deaths have been reported.
“A significant part of Jojutla is destroyed,” Governor Graco Ramírez told Foro TV.
In Cuernavaca, an antenna fell off an emblematic building known as the Torre Latinoamericana killing one person. The building subsequently collapsed as did many others across the state.
The priority, as in other parts of the country, was the rescue of people who could be trapped under the rubble of fallen buildings. Hundreds of military personnel worked through the night with state police and volunteers on the rescue efforts.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 12 kilometers southeast of Axochiapan, where one person died and more than 50 people were injured.
A 40-year-old man was killed in the town’s 19th-century church when its dome collapsed during a funeral mass.
The quake temporarily shut down the 911 emergency response service due to the number of calls it received. So police, firefighters and public safety officials went on patrol to provide help where it was needed.
Army personnel arrived in the town of 20,000 at about 2:20pm and joined municipal officials who were already clearing the debris of fallen homes, many of them built of adobe.
Inspections of infrastructure in the state, including hospitals, schools and highways, are currently under way to check for structural damage. Schools are closed across the state.
Many of the state’s hospitals had to be evacuated, Ramírez said, and medical attention was limited to hospitals in Cuautla and Tetecala. As of 10:00am, 196 people had been hospitalized for injuries caused by the earthquake.
However, Quiroz stressed that the government would ensure that people who required medical treatment would receive it.
“The most important thing is to support those who have suffered the loss of a family member and guarantee attention to those who have been affected by injuries or material losses,” Quiroz said.
The Federal Electricity Commission reported that 90% of the electricity service has been restored and work is continuing to fully restore the system.
Shelters have been set up in several municipalities to offer accommodation and meals to affected people.