Today, September 19, marks 29 years since the earthquake of 1985 which devastated Mexico City leaving thousands of residents dead.  Official estimates placed the death toll at approximately 10,000 although some placed the figure as high as 45,000.

Even when the epicenter of an earthquake is quite far away,  in this case off the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the city, especially the downtown area, is highly susceptible to seismic activity due to the fact that it lies upon what was once a lake.  The soil below the city is soft and spongy which amplifies the effect of earthquakes.  Read more about it here.

In Mexico City the fear of earthquakes continues.  Earlier this year 2 strong quakes affected the capital. One occurred on good Friday just before I set out to the Christ crucifixion in Iztapalapa.  Contrary to the standard protocol in other parts of the world, the tendency here is to evacuate any building you happen to be in as quickly as possible and make your way to the street.  Given that so many buildings collapsed in the 1985 quake, the logic is understandable.

Today at my workplace I participated in a simulated emergency evacuation drill as did many others around the city.  Embedded below is a short video which shows some of the devastation caused.  It’s in Spanish but the stark images require no translation.

Peter W Davies


  1. There’s a small monument at Tlatelolco to Placido Domingo, who grew up in the area and returned to coordinate rescue efforts there.

    Mexico – and the west coast of Latin America in general – gets some nasty rumblers. I remember an earthquake when I was on the 18th floor of an edificio in Santa Fe. The building was modern, built on rollers, and rolled back and forth for several minutes.

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