At least 200 buildings were damaged in the mountain municipality of San Juan Ozolotepec, Oaxaca, in the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that rocked southern and central Mexico on Tuesday morning, officials report.
The region was the hardest hit by the quake, which left three of its residents dead, scores of homes uninhabitable and a church and medical clinic on the verge of collapse.
Dozens of people have had to leave their homes due to structural damage, and landslides on the highway temporarily blocked access to army and National Guard disaster relief crews.
“Right now the report that we have is of material damage, many houses were demolished, they have many cracks, people will no longer be able to inhabit them,” said Mayor Francisco Reyes.
The region is no stranger to earthquakes, including the 8.1-magnitude temblor in 2017, but residents of San Juan Ozolotepec, where 99.5% of the population live in poverty according to federal statistics, said that Tuesday’s quake felt much stronger, as they struggle to contend with the damage and numerous aftershocks.
Due to the town’s location, cell phone coverage is spotty at best, and after the quake some residents climbed hills trying to get cell phone service to plead for help.
Several ranches and small settlements remain cut off due to rubble-covered roads as rescue crews set out on foot to try to reach them and offer assistance.
The National Seismological Service placed the quake’s epicenter at two kilometers outside La Crucecita, Oaxaca, some 175 kilometers from San Juan Ozolotepec, but the tremor was felt in several states.
Both the epicenter and the magnitude of the quake have been revised. It was initially reported to be 23 kilometers from La Crucecita with a magnitude of 7.5.
The death toll has also gone up as another six bodies have been recovered since Tuesday.
“At the moment 97 municipalities reported damages in the states of Oaxaca, the state of México, Mexico City and Veracruz. There are two temporary shelters active in the state of Oaxaca, where a total of 38 people have sought shelter,” Civil Protection officials reported yesterday.
“Unfortunately there are reports that 10 people have died and 21 are injured in Oaxaca, and in Mexico City two injures were reported.”
Throughout Oaxaca, more than 2,000 structures were damaged, including 15 hospitals and medical clinics, as well as four hospitals and two churches in Veracruz.