Mexico earthquake: Country in mourning as huge tremors claim 66 victims

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A huge earthquake has claimed at least 66 lives as it destroyed buildings in Mexico.

The 8.1 magnitude tremors stuck Juchitan, in Oaxaca state on Friday morning where it killed 36 people and toppled parts of the city.

Dozens more were killed when the quake hit neighbouring states, while two others died in a mudslide in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz after Hurricane Katia hit late on Friday.

More than 1.8 million people were left with out power due to the quake, and authorities closed schools in at least 11 states amid safety fears.

Huge quake: Rescue workers stand in front of the rubbles of a part of the municipal palace in Juchitan (REUTERS)

The Interior Department reported that 428 homes were destroyed and 1,700 were damaged just in Chiapas, the state closest to the epicentre.

Just one day later, Hurricane Katia hit land north of Tecolutla in Veracruz state, pelting the region with intense rains and maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

Slow-moving funeral processions converged on one of Juchitan’s cemeteries from all directions on Saturday sometimes causing temporary gridlock when they encountered each other at intersections.

Mourning: The Mexican flag flies at half-mast on top of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City (AP)

The cemetery swelled with mourners and noisy serenades for the dead.

Pallbearers carried the caskets around rubble the quake had knocked from the simple concrete crypts.

Paulo Cesar Escamilla Matus and his family held a memorial service for his mother Reynalda Matus Martinez in the living room of her home, where relatives quietly wept beside her body.

The 64-year-old woman was working the night shift at a neighbourhood pharmacy when the quake struck on Thursday night, collapsing the building.

“All the weight of the second floor fell on top of her,” said her son, who rushed to the building and found her under rubble.

Rescue mission: Emergency services assess the rubble (Rex Features)

He and neighbours tried to dig her out, but were not able to recover her body until the next morning when civil defence workers brought an excavator that could lift what had trapped her.

Rescuers searched for survivors with sniffer dogs and used heavy machinery in Juchitan’s main square to pull rubble away from city hall, where a missing police officer was believed to be inside.

The city’s civil defence co-ordinator Jose Antonio Marin Lopez said similar searches had been going on all over the area. 

Teams found bodies in the rubble, but the hopes of finding survivors swelled as four people, including two children, we pulled alive from the completely collapsed Hotel Del Rio, where one woman died.


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