As many Canadians solemnly follow news of Mexico’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake disaster from afar, one Calgarian couple is reflecting on the harrowing feeling of having experienced it up close.
Brett and Sarah Rieger were lounging in the Airbnb they rented together in Polanco, a neighbourhood in the northwest section of Mexico City. They were fortunate enough to be spared from any of the earthquake’s most devastating effects, but it was a razor-thin distinction, according to Sarah.
“We saw an apartment building we had walked by the night before, I think it was two blocks from where we were staying. It had just fully collapsed,” she said. “It was just hard to think that some of the people we’d met or had got a coffee from or something earlier that week could be facing such devastation in their lives.”
The extent of the damage in Mexico City and the surrounding region (the quake’s epicenter was reportedly about 75 miles from the city in an area called San Juan Raboso) is truly heartbreaking. There have been at least 225 confirmed casualties thus far, with 30 children and 12 adults additionally unaccounted for.
All around the region are toppled buildings, broken gas mains, and fallen debris of all sorts. Valiant rescue teams and workers spent the day digging through wreckage and helping trapped survivors whenever possible.
“This disaster has exemplified just how welcoming and thoughtful the Mexican people are,” said Amy Macculloch, another Calgarian who was in Mexico City (where she teaches English) at the time of the earthquake.
Compounding these tragic circumstances is the fact that Mexico is still recovering from a separate earthquake in the state of Chiapas that struck last week and reached an 8.1 magnitude—the strongest there in over a century. It claimed 96 lives and is expected to have an insured loss of close to $1-billion USD.