Mexican earthquake death toll reaches 90 as food supplies fly in

Mexican officials say that at least 90 people have died due to this week's massive earthquake. Government cargo planes are flying in supplies as troops began distributing boxes of food to survivors of an earthquake that destroyed a large part of Juchitan and killed at least 37 people in the area.
Mexioc was hit by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake. Picture: AP Photo/Rebecca BlackwellMexioc was hit by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake. Picture: AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
Mexioc was hit by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake. Picture: AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Some people continued to sleep outside, fearful of more collapses, as strong aftershocks continued to rattle the town, including a magnitude 5.2 jolt earlyyesterday.

Local officials said they had counted nearly 800 aftershocks of all sizes since Thursday’s big quake, and the US Geological Survey counted nearly 60 with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.

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Teams of soldiers and federal police spread out across neighbourhoods in Juchitan to help demolish damaged buildings. Maria de Lourdes Quintana Lopez said she could not wait for the government’s assistance as she oversaw the demolition of her family business’s warehouse.

“We have to work so that we’re not overcome with sadness,” Ms Quintana said.

“We’re not going to wait for the government to do what it has to do.”

The 8.1 magnitude earthquake caused so many deaths in Juchitan that slow-moving funeral processions caused temporary gridlock as they converged on the city’s cemeteries.

Scenes of mourning were repeated over and over again in Juchitan, where a third of the city’s homes collapsed or were uninhabitable, President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Friday.

On the outskirts of the city, the general hospital settled into its temporary home – a school gym with stretchers parked on the basketball court. The earthquake rendered the hospital itself uninhabitable, so the gym contained a mix of patients that pre-dated the earthquake and those who suffered injuries as a result of it.

Maria Teresa Sales Alvarez said it was “chaos” when the earthquake struck the single-story hospital, but staff moved patients outside and transferred most of those who required specialised care to other facilities.

Governor Alejandro Murat said yesterday that the death toll in his state had risen to 71. Officials have reported 19 killed in neighbouring states.

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Two others died in a mudslide in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz after Hurricane Katia hit late on Friday.

Mr Pena Nieto said authorities were working to re-establish supplies of water and food and provide medical attention to those who need it.