By Maria Lozano
Briefing to our Donors
ON SEPT. 19, 2017, an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck near Mexico City, with the death toll presently at more than 250 people, but more victims are still buried under the rubble. Many buildings have collapsed, among them schools, homes, churches and convents.
Among the most seriously affected places is Mexico City itself, with serious structural damage recorded at over 44 different sites within the capital. Many areas have been left without electricity, and the Mexico City airport has suspended all flights; all local schools and universities in affected areas remain closed.
The population is united in their rescue efforts, since many people are still trapped beneath the rubble and calling for help. The countdown has begun for saving those who are still alive.
The government has issued warnings of possible after-shocks and has urged people not to return to damaged buildings and to avoid driving on the streets in order not to hamper the rescue efforts. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has activated the so-called “PlanMX” emergency response plan and convened the National Emergency Committee to evaluate the situation following the earthquake.
For its part, the Mexican bishops’ conference has issued a communiqué aimed at channeling and organizing aid in response to the emergency. It is worth remembering that only a few days earlier, on Sept. 7, 2017, another major earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 magnitude also struck México, prompting a state of emergency, all in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz, which were at the same time also dealing with the passage of two hurricanes.
Julieta Appendini, the national director of our office in Mexico, called for worldwide prayers for her country. “We are alarmed at the magnitude of this new tragedy. The situation has been difficult. In the past two weeks we have had thousands of people hurt, and despite what happened yesterday, the insecurity in Mexico was once again in evidence, with armed robberies, assaults, looting from shops by people taking advantage of the situation. Today, more than ever, our beloved Mexico and all who belong to her are asking the whole world and each one of you for your prayers. May Our Lord and Our Lady of Guadalupe bless and protect us!”
ACN Mexico has barely finished assessing the damage of the earlier earthquake, which cost the lives of more than100 people and left some 1.4 million people homeless.
Ms. Appendini explained: “We know that the churches are providing refuge for those made homeless and that the priests have put into operation plans for helping the material and spiritual needs of the communities. People are still in shock and in mourning as a result of the tragedy and the loss of all their belongings. It has also been determined that 122 churches have been closed on account of structural damage and the risk that they might collapse. Some of these churches date back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.”
Our office in Mexico is working closely with the Mexican bishops’ conference and other agencies to provide aid and disseminate information.