Media CenterCRS Bringing Help to Earthquake Victims in Mexico

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Updated September 26, 2017

Several aftershocks jolted southwestern Mexico this weekend, further shaking a country still coming to grips with the devastation from stronger earthquakes earlier this month.

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake Saturday morning was centered in Oaxaca state near Matias Romero, a town about 275 miles southeast of Mexico City. Roughly speaking, the epicenter was between the centers of this month's two more violent earthquakes — the 7.1 magnitude temblor that hit on September 19 closer to the capital, and the 8.1 magnitude quake that struck September 8 off the southern Pacific coast, near the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. 

Both caused extensive damage. Crews and volunteers have been working day and night in Mexico City, hoping to find survivors in collapsed buildings. A reported 324 people were killed in the disaster, and more than 100 people have been rescued from collapsed buildings.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) emergency staff already in Oaxaca said Sunday’s aftershocks rattled people who were already traumatized by the earthquake earlier this month. 

“Saturday was not just aftershocks but new strong quakes that lasted off and on in short intervals for hours with force. The local population felt this was a game changer from the less intense aftershocks that had been happening for weeks, and there were serious concerns that another big quake could happen,” said John Service, Senior Technical Advisor, Emergency Operations.

CRS and local partner staff spent much of Sunday night caring for some of those people in Union Hidalgo in Oaxaca, distributing eggs and other household supplies.

“When we went to distribute household items that night, many parents asked the sisters to assure their children that we were going to be ok; you could see their fear on their faces. Now two days past, the population is moving on but this renewed fear is just under the surface and everyone continues to sleep outside, even when we have very strong rainfalls every afternoon," said Service.

Catholic Relief Services' office in Mexico City is open and the agency is responding. All staff and partners are safe.

The Tehuantepec Diocesan Commission is CRS’ main partner in Oaxaca state, where needs are significant and houses have been severely damaged. In Oaxaca, CRS teams are evaluating San Maria Huatulco Salina Cruz port and San Francisco de Ixhuatan as options for procuring and transporting key emergency supplies from local markets.

In response to the second quake in Central Mexico, CRS is supporting diocesan partners in Puebla and Morelos so that they can provide immediate assistance.

Priorities include: emergency shelter supplies; water, sanitation and hygiene; food assistance through community kitchens; repair and construction of damaged homes; and latrine rehabilitation and construction.

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September 21, 2017

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) offices in Mexico City are open and the agency is responding to the earthquake that hit that city this week, as well as last week’s tremor that did extensive damage in the southern part of the country.

“Today the city woke up feeling sad, but the amount of energy and solidarity that this terrible event has brought out is amazing,” said Cecilia Suarez, CRS’ Head of Operations in Mexico City, who noted that this earthquake came on anniversary of another in 1985 that killed 5,000.

“Mexico’s soul was shaken again, like back in 1985,” she said. “But again, everybody focused on helping, and bringing hope to those in need, without caring about our own day-to-day needs.”

Many buildings collapsed during the 7.1 magnitude quake that was centered south of the capital city. It came 11 days after an 8.1 magnitude quake struck just off Mexico’s west coast near the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Both caused extensive damage. Crews and volunteers were working through the night in Mexico City, hoping to find survivors in collapsed buildings.

CRS will initially work with the Catholic church and other local partners to begin distributing tarpaulins and other shelter material for those whose homes were destroyed or damaged, as well as helping to meet pressing needs such as community cooking facilities and clean water.

Further responses will be determined based on more detailed assessments of communities’ needs.

Suarez noted that the work of CRS and our partners is hampered by the same obstacles many in Mexico are facing – transportation difficulties and staff members dealing with earthquake damage but she said that the many messages of support have buoyed spirits.

“Mexicans have provided a light, shelter, or blankets to protect us, showing the care that will build hope again in our souls,” she said. “Everyone’s prayers will allow more survivors to get out of those buildings, solidarity will bring hope back again to our already suffering Mexico. We will shine again, very soon.”

Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
September 26, 2017

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More