Information tends to travel slowly when it concerns Chiapas: the real dimensions of the damage caused by Wednesday’s earthquake are now beginning to appear.
Authorities are now reporting there was either total or partial damage to over 200 houses and 27 schools, some collapsed bridges and a tally of 11 people injured in the 7.0-magnitude quake registered on the Mexico-Guatemala border at 2:29am.
The Civil Protection chief for the Soconusco region of Chiapas has confirmed that in the municipality of Huixtla alone five homes were destroyed and 144 were partially damaged. The 27 damaged schools are also in Huixtla and one of them was a complete loss.
The other affected municipalities were Villacomatitlán, Huehuetán, Tapachula and Ciudad Hidalgo. The latter was located just 16 kilometers northwest of the epicenter.
At least two bridges collapsed due to the seismic event and several rural roads were partially affected, representing up to 170 million pesos (US $9.5 million) in damages, according to estimates by the federal Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT).
The federal Interior Secretariat and the state government have installed a damage assessment committee through which the reconstruction process will begin and relief will be provided to the affected population.
A 65-year-old resident of the region told the newspaper El Universal that she “had never felt an earthquake of that nature.
“I thought we were going to die,” she continued, “so I just kneeled, raised my arms to heaven and asked for God to have mercy on us.”
The strong movement made it impossible for her to stand and walk and it was a niece who helped her move to a safer spot.
Olvita Palomeque Pineda had a similarly harrowing experience. “I thought we weren’t going to make it . . . the shaking was too strong and we couldn’t get out of the house . . . we couldn’t walk.”
Palomeque’s house, located in Huixtla, was one of those most affected, but the homeowner is no novice when it comes to the effects of earthquakes.
Three years and a week before Wednesday’s quake her house was also one of the most affected when a 6.9-magnitude tremor struck.
She had to rebuild her house on her own; she is still waiting for federal government support.
The earthquake’s epicenter was just across the the border in Guatemala where five people were killed and seven injured.