NEWS: Less Than 24 Hours After a 7.1-Magnitude Earthquake Pummelled Mexico City, Another Tremor Has Occurred Off The East Coast of Japan

NEWS: Less Than 24 Hours After a 7.1-Magnitude Earthquake Pummelled Mexico City, Another Tremor Has Occurred Off The East Coast of Japan

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake has struck Japan 175 miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant

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Less than 24 hours after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake pummelled Mexico City, another tremor has occurred off the east coast of Japan.

The 6.1-magnitude quake struck roughly 175 miles east of the shuttered Fukushima nuclear plant at roughly 2:30 a.m. local time, according to the US Geological Survey. Its hypocenter — the underwater locus of the quake — happened at a depth of about 6 miles.

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Like Mexico, Japan is located in what is considered an active earthquake region.

The country is influenced by the slipping and sliding of several of Earth’s tectonic plates, including the North America plate, Pacific plate, Philippine Sea plate, and Eurasia plate. Whenever these pieces of crust grind or butt up against one another, earthquakes happen.

Over the past century, Japan has been struck by nine severe earthquakes, each of which killed more than 1,000 people.

Part of the problem is the country’s high population density, which can make even shallow temblors a serious risk.

In 1995, an earthquake along the Japan Median Tectonic Line near Kobe lead to more than 5,000 deaths.

More recently, the magnitude 9 Tohoku earthquake in 2011 killed more than 20,000 people after it triggered a tsunami that generated powerful waves up to 133 feet tall. That earthquake occurred just 43 miles east of inhabited land and its underwater hypocenter was close to three times as deep.

This is a developing story. (Yahoo.news)

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Hard to believe: Just hours earlier in the day, many buildings across the city participated in earthquake drills.

Why the earthquake was so damaging

Earthquakes are scored on a logarithmic scale of 1 to 10, so a magnitude 7 represents an earthquake with an amplitude 10 times greater than a magnitude 6. For every higher number on the scale, “the associated seismic energy increases by about 32 times,” the USGS explains.

But more simply: A 7.1 is a very powerful quake, capable of destroying whole buildings or ripping facades off others. Videos on social media show buildings collapsing.

“Big earthquakes are always possible in Mexico,” Susan Hough, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey, says in an email. And that’s because the country is near the boundary of three fault lines.

Fault lines are places where the Earth’s tectonic plates — the masses of crust that form the major continental regions of the planet — meet one another. As these plates push and pull against each other, they form massive areas of pressure. Occasionally the rocks in these high-pressure zones rupture or suddenly shift positions. The resulting release of energy forms a wave that propagates throughout the globe.

Tuesday’s earthquake occurred near where the Cocos Plate is pushing underneath the North American Plate (at a rate of 76 millimeters a year, according to the USGS.)

And then there’s the geography of Mexico City itself, which makes it particularly susceptible to earthquake damage. The city is built on a dried-up ancient lakebed. “These soft sedimentary clay deposits amplified the seismic waves, or they liquefied, destroying the foundation of some buildings,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains in a article about why the 1985 earthquake was so deadly.

This quake comes just two weeks after an extremely powerful 8.2 quake struck off the Pacific Coast of Mexico, killing at least 90. Did that event cause this quake? It’s too early to say, reports volcanologist Erik Klemetti in Discover magazine:

There could be the chance that the previous earthquake added more stress to a fault that was close to rupture. However, it will take time to determine if this was actually the case.

And eerier: Tuesday’s quake comes on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 magnitude 8 event that left 10,000 people dead, 30,000 injured, and thousands homeless. Also hard to believe: Just hours earlier in the day, many buildings across the city participated in earthquake drills. (Vox.com)

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Mexico rocked by 7.1-magnitude earthquake on anniversary of deadly 1985 quake

FRANTIC search and rescue efforts are under way in Mexico after a devastating 7.1-magnitude earthquake that flattened buildings, including a school.

POLICE, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday, looking for survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities stood at 217.

Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.

One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-storey building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.

Volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.

“We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults — a woman and a man,” he said.

Volunteers and rescue workers search for children trapped inside at the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City. Picture: AP

Volunteers and rescue workers search for children trapped inside at the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City. Picture: APSource:AP

“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help.”

A mix of neighbourhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school’s rubble.

The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received Whatsapp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed.

Rescuers brought in wooden beams to shore up the fallen concrete slabs so they wouldn’t collapse further and crush whatever airspaces remained.

The federal Education Department reported late Tuesday that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school’s wreckage, all but four of them children.

It was not clear whether those deaths were included in the overall death toll of 217 reported by the federal civil defence agency.

Volunteers and rescue personnel work on the remains of a collapsed primary school in an attempt to find children they believe are trapped under the rubble. Picture: AP / Marco Ugarte

Volunteers and rescue personnel work on the remains of a collapsed primary school in an attempt to find children they believe are trapped under the rubble. Picture: AP / Marco UgarteSource:AP

In a video message released late Tuesday, Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40 per cent of Mexico City and 60 per cent of nearby Morelos state were without power. But, he said, “the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people.” People across central Mexico already had rallied to help their neighbours as dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed and twisted and hundreds of thousands of panicked people ran into the streets.

Dust-covered and exhausted from digging, 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza said two people were pulled alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in the Roma Sur neighbourhood during a three-hour period.

“When we saw this, we came to help,” he said, gesturing at the destruction. “This is ugly, very ugly.” Blocks away, Alma Gonzalez was in her fourth-floor apartment when the quake collapsed the ground floor of her building, leaving her no way out. She was terrified until her neighbours mounted a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out a side window.

Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers remove rubble and debris from a flattened building in search of survivors. Picture: AFP / YURI CORTEZ

Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers remove rubble and debris from a flattened building in search of survivors. Picture: AFP / YURI CORTEZSource:AFP

Mexican rescuers search for survivors at a partially collapsed building in Mexico City. Picture: AFP / YURI CORTEZ

Mexican rescuers search for survivors at a partially collapsed building in Mexico City. Picture: AFP / YURI CORTEZSource:AFP

The national Civil Defense agency reported early Wednesday that the confirmed death toll stood at 248, more than half of them in the capital.

The official Twitter feed of agency head Luis Felipe Puente said 86 dead had been counted in Mexico City and 71 in Morelos state, which is just south of the capital. It said 43 were known dead in Puebla state, where the quake was centred.

Twelve deaths were listed in the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City on three sides, four in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca.

At the site of a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City, rescuers worked atop a three-storey pile of rubble, forming a human chain that passed pieces of rubble across four city blocks to a site where they were dumped.

Throughout the day, rescuers pulled dust-covered people, some barely conscious, some seriously injured, from about three dozen collapsed buildings. At one site, shopping carts commandeered from a nearby supermarket were used to carry water to the rescue site and take rubble away.

DESPERATE SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS

In the aftermath of the disaster, people used shopping carts from a nearby supermarket to carry away rubble in a Mexico City neighbourhood where three apartment buildings collapsed on the same stretch of street.

Valerie Perez, a 23-year-old student from Venezuela, ran from her fourth-floor apartment just in time to see the building in front of it collapse. With only a month in Mexico, she was stunned by the day’s events.

“A drill at 11am and an earthquake at 1pm,” she said. “This is the most powerful thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Rescue workers rushed to the site of damaged or collapsed buildings in the capital, and reporters saw onlookers cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble.

Rescuers immediately called for silence so that they could listen for others who might be trapped.

Mariana Morales, a 26-year-old nutritionist, 26, was one many who spontaneously participated in rescue efforts. She says she joined the efforts after seeing a building collapsing in a cloud of dust before her eyes.

People remove debris of a collapsed building looking for possible victims in Mexico City. Picture: AFP

People remove debris of a collapsed building looking for possible victims in Mexico City. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Morales says she was in a taxi when the quake struck Tuesday and she got out and sat on the sidewalk to recover from the scare. As she sat there the building tumbled a few meters away from her.

“There was the sound of thunder … then dust and all this,” Morales said. “The people are organising quickly,” she said.

She wore a paper face mask and her hands were still dusty from having joined a rescue brigade to clear rubble from a building that fell in a cloud of dust before her eyes, about 15 minutes after the quake.

People work to rescue people from a collapsed building in the Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City. Picture: AP / Enric Marti

People work to rescue people from a collapsed building in the Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City. Picture: AP / Enric MartiSource:AP

As night began to fall, huge flood lights lit up the recovery sites, but workers and volunteers begged for headlamps.

Where a six-story office building collapsed in Mexico City, sisters Cristina and Victoria Lopez Torres formed part of a human chain passing bottled water. “I think it’s human nature that drives everyone to come and help others,” Cristina Lopez said.

“We are young. We didn’t live through 85. But we know that it’s important to come out into the streets to help,” said her sister Victoria. Ricardo Ibarra, 48, did live through the 1985 quake and said there hadn’t been anything like it since.

Wearing a bright orange vest and carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag strapped to it, he said he and his friends just wanted to help. “People are very sensitive because today was the 32nd anniversary of a tragedy,” he said.

In this photo provided by Francisco Caballero Gout, shot through a window of the iconic Torre Latina, dust rises over down town Mexico City. Picture: AP / Francisco Caballero Gout

In this photo provided by Francisco Caballero Gout, shot through a window of the iconic Torre Latina, dust rises over down town Mexico City. Picture: AP / Francisco Caballero GoutSource:AP

People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue. Picture: AP / Marco Ugarte

People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue. Picture: AP / Marco UgarteSource:AP

Buildings also collapsed in Morelos state, including the town hall and local church in Jojutla near the quake’s epicentre. A dozen people died in Jojutla. The town’s Instituto Morelos secondary school partly collapsed, but school director Adelina Anzures said the earthquake drill held in the morning came in handy.

“I told them that it was not a game, that we should be prepared,” Anzures said of the drill. When the quake came, she said, children and teachers rapidly filed out and nobody was hurt.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14pm (2:15pm. EDT) and was centred near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 76 miles (123 kilometres) southeast of Mexico City.

Much of Mexico City is built on former lake bed, and the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centred hundreds of miles away.

The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit Sept. 7 off Mexico’s southern coast and also was felt strongly in the capital. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicentres of the two quakes were 400 miles (650 kilometres) apart and said most aftershocks are within (60 miles) 100 kilometres.

SECOND QUAKE IN TWO WEEKS

Tuesday’s quake comes less than two weeks after Mexico was hit by a 8.2-magnitude tremor, felt as far away as Austin, Texas, and followed 30 minutes later by a 6-magnitude aftershock. Around 100 people were killed.

Much of Mexico City is built on former lake bed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of kilometres away. (news.com.au)

 

 

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