A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico’s west coast on Monday, September 19, with aftershocks felt across the center of the country. The quake hit just under an hour after an annual drill organized to commemorate the deadly earthquakes of September 19, 1985, and September 19, 2017. Claudia Sheinbaum, the head of government of Mexican City, said that no damage had been reported in the capital so far. However, civil protection services on Monday were still monitoring the streets and avenues of central Mexico. Authorities were awaiting reports from the rest of the country. “We are going to start collecting information,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated in a preliminary report. “We wish with all our hearts that nothing serious has happened.”
Mexican authorities inspected buildings in the capital’s historic center, where many buildings date back to the colonial era, but no structural damage was reported. Meanwhile, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) reported that it had activated a protocol to inspect whether the earthquake damaged the country’s electrical system, primarily in the capital and in Michoacán, the epicenter of the quake.
On Monday, residents of Mexico City had prepared for the annual earthquake drill, but they did not expect the alerts to sound again minutes after the drill ended. The same scenes were repeated all across the city in the morning: nervous neighbors left their apartments or workplaces, commenting on the coincidence and checking their cell phones for information about the earthquake. “It’s incredible that the same thing can happen again,” said a shaking neighbor in the Cuauhtémoc neighborhood near the city center. “From now on, we’re going to leave the city for the long weekend, and we won’t come back until after the 19th,” joked another, referring to the recent celebrations for Mexico’s Independence Day. “The alert didn’t sound, and I realized when I heard the cups and dishes [shaking],” complained a resident of the western district of Azcapotzalco. “I felt dizzy, but I didn’t go downstairs until I heard the plates and cups and the screams from a neighbor,” he added.
Down on the street, health personnel attended to people suffering from shock and anxiety. The sound of the alarms can bring back the trauma of previous earthquakes. The fact that the earthquake hit on the same date as the deadly disasters in 1985 and 2017 heightened residents’ concern.
SISMO Magnitud 7.4 Loc 63 km al SUR de COALCOMAN, MICH 19/09/22 13:05:09 Lat 18.22 Lon -103.29 Pf 15 km pic.twitter.com/qc3bYLi9LP— Sismologico Nacional (@SismologicoMX) September 19, 2022
“The activities of the 2022 National Drill of September 19 are planned according to the scenario of a hypothetical 8.1-magnitude earthquake with an epicenter 42 kilometers northeast of La Mira, Michoacán. The social networks of the SSN are operating normally,” the National Seismological System (SSN) explained an hour before the quake.
President López Obrador spoke with Michoacán governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla about the situation in the state and possible damage caused by the earthquake. “There are reports of material damages only in Coalcomán, where the epicenter was, and nearby,” Obrador reported. “We must be attentive and gather all the information necessary for aid,” he told Ramírez Bedolla during their telephone call after the quake. The president also spoke with Sheinbaum, who affirmed that there was no serious damage in the capital.