The Search for Survivors: Mexico City’s Earthquake


Bridget Kane, Features/Humans of SJV Editor, Writer

On September 19, 1985, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake shook Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, to its core. On the same day, 35 years later, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake again made streets shake and caused buildings to crumble. What could have caused this massive quake, and could it have been predicted?    

According to The LA Times, at least 320 people have died nationwide as of Sunday, September due to this earthquake.  A three-story school collapsed and killed 21 children and four adults, but rescuers managed to free 11 children, saving their lives, according to National Public Radio. However, as of September 24, rescuers do believe there may be another adult survivor in the rubble and are doing their best to check if there is a person still there to free him or her. However, according to NPR, all of the students in the school are accounted for.

“We’ve done an accounting with school officials, and we are certain that all of the children either died, unfortunately, are in hospitals, or are safe at their homes,” said Angel Enrique Sarmiento, Navy Assistant Secretary, as quoted by The Associated Press. A little girl was able to communicate with volunteers underneath the debris by wiggling her fingers, and they believe her name is Frida Sofia, but no family has claimed her yet, and school associates say that there was nobody in the school who went by that name.     

In total, 30 people have been hospitalized for injuries, and 11 are in critical condition. According to Dr. Fidel Castellanos, 60 people have arrived at Balbuena, the Mexico City hospital where Dr. Castellanos works, since Tuesday, September 19, and the hospital received more earthquake victims than any other facility. According to Castellanos, many people have burns or fractures, and 11 people are still in the hospital.

Scientists do not know why such a strong earthquake occurred on the same day as the famous one in 1985, but they do know that it could not have been predicted. Although scientists throughout history have tried to predict these natural phenomenons, all experiments have failed. An earthquake occurs when tectonic plates underneath the Earth’s surface scrape against each other, which results in the ground shaking. The most common tremors occur in places where there are fault lines. A fault line is a fracture in a tectonic plate’s path and this is located throughout the world, one of them from the tip of Alaska to the bottom of South America. This is believed to be the cause of Mexico City’s earthquake.

Although we may never know when an earthquake will occur, we can prepare for one. If you live in a common earthquake area, make sure you know what do when the building you are in starts to shake, and make sure to know where to find a safe place if you are on the street. Also, know that earthquakes usually have aftershocks, so be prepared to drop down again and find shelter as quickly as possible.

As of September 26, Mexico City is still in an SOS situation and volunteers are still looking for bodies, hoping they will find survivors they may be missed before. Please keep Mexico and all of the victims of the earthquake in your thoughts and prayers, because they would do the same for us.