Thousands of Mexican citizens flood the shaken city streets of Mexico City, fleeing the destruction of a a 7.1 magnitude earthquake which hit the center of Mexico, killing 333 persons and reducing 38 buildings In Mexico City to rubble. Mexican marines said they have rescued 115 people and recovered 102 bodies. Search and rescue efforts are still underway. Gina Condado, Mexico City resident and mother of John Brown University student, Karla Condado, shared her account of the events.
Condado was at her workplace during the time of the earthquake. She recalled that there was a general earthquake drill at 11 a.m., an exercise done every Sept. 19 in remembrance of the catastrophic 8.0 earthquake that killed 5,000 people in 1985.
“It was 1 p.m. when the earthquake started,” Condado recalled. “We were at the office, on the second floor of a building. We tried to go down the stairs, but the people started panicking and piling up at the stairwell. That made it impossible for us to leave the building. We had to seek cover by pressing against a wall.”
Condado described those minutes inside the building as “eternal.” She said that the situation inside the building got worst when they started hearing cracking noises and saw part of the ceiling and glass fall down.
“Thankfully, after the earthquake stopped we were able to leave the building and move to a safe zone” Condado said.
Once the earthquake stopped, Condado’s first reaction was to call her children’s schools to make sure they were safe.
“Phone service was down, but I was able to communicate with their principal through WhatsApp [instant messaging application], and she told me everyone was safe, ”Condado said.
After getting confirmation of the safety of her children, Condado drove through downtown Mexico City to pick up her children from school, and witnessed firsthand the earthquake’s devestation.
“Immediately, I realized all the disaster that this earthquake had left. The people were running on the street, the stoplights were not working, you could see people with open wounds in their heads, broken glass on the street, and broken water pipes throwing water into the street,” Condado recalled.
Condado said that she had to spend 6 hours on the streets of a city dominated by chaos, as many roads were closed due to the collapse of multiple buildings.
“There was a lot of desperation. People were walking on the streets because public transportation stopped working. I opened my car to any person that needed help, because there were people with canes and in wheelchairs that were having trouble moving on the streets.”
While all of this was happening in Mexico, Juanky Lopez, sophomore engineering major, and Daniel Calderon, freshman digital cinema major, were forced to follow the events developing in their home country from afar.
Lopez, a native from Morelia, Mexico, a city about three hours away from Mexico City, said he was in class when a classmate mentioned the news of new earthquake in Mexico.
“I thought it was a usual earthquake, since it is very common for my country to have earthquakes,” Lopez said.
Lopez recalled that after getting a phone call from a friend he decided to check social media to learn of the occurrences in Mexico. On Twitter, Lopez saw videos of buildings collapsing and started to realize the magnitude of the events taking place in his country.
“One of the most shocking things I saw was the news of an elementary school in Mexico City that collapsed with some children inside,” Lopez said, referring to the Enrique Rebsamen School, where 26 students and staff lost their lives.
Even though Morelia was not directly affected by the earthquake, Lopez called home to make sure his family in Morelia and in Mexico City were safe.
“I called my family in Morelia to ask them if they were okay. They said they were shocked but fine. After that, I called my relatives in Mexico City and, thank God, they said they were good. Then I called my best friend who also lives in Mexico City to check if he’s good. It took him a while to answer, but after a few tries he answered and he said he was good,” Lopez said.
JOSE RICARDO SALINAS – Sports Editor