September 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm PST | by Karen Ocamb
Mexico earthquake kills at least 149 people, causes widespread damage

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least 149 people in central Mexico on Sept. 19, 2017, and damaged buildings in some of Mexico City’s traditionally gay neighborhoods. The tremor toppled a bookshelf and other items in Jesús Chairez’s apartment in Mexico City’s Historic Center. (Photo courtesy of Jesús Chairez)

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake killed at least 149 people in central Mexico on Tuesday. The earthquake — which struck at around 1:15 p.m. local time (2:15 p.m. EST) — caused dozens of buildings in Mexico City and surrounding areas to collapse.

Several buildings in Mexico City’s Roma and Condesa neighborhoods — in which many LGBT people live — collapsed during the earthquake. Daniel Romero, who lives in Roma, provided the Washington Blade with pictures that show rubble and other debris from the collapsed buildings in the street.

Romero told the Blade he felt a “terrible jolt” and lost power for several hours. He also said the earthquake knocked over a bookshelf in his apartment and left cracks in the wall.

Jesús Chairez posted pictures onto his Facebook page that show bookshelves, books, broken candles and other items the earthquake knocked onto the floor of his apartment in Mexico City’s Historic Center.

He told the Blade he was walking out of a subway station in Roma when he began to hear what he described as “earthquake alarms.” Chairez said he “immediately” felt the earthquake and ran into Avenida Chapultepac, which is one of Mexico City’s main thoroughfares.

“I saw buildings swaying and lots of dust between them,” he said. “I smelled gas and saw flames coming from the top of an apartment building.”

Gloria Careaga, a Mexico City-based LGBT and intersex rights advocate, said she is “very scared, but otherwise fine.” Other activists in the Mexican capital with whom the Blade spoke in the hours after the earthquake said they are safe.

Ricardo Baruch, an activist who lives in Cuernavaca, a city in the state of Morelos that is roughly 50 miles south of Mexico City, said he and his family and friends are “ok.” He the Blade the earthquake “severely damaged” Cuernavaca and killed at least 50 people.

The earthquake’s epicenter was roughly 75 miles south of Mexico City in the state of Puebla.

A 5.2 earthquake that struck southern Mexico earlier this month killed 90 people. Tuesday’s tremor jolted central Mexico on the 32nd anniversary of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands of people in Mexico City and destroyed large swaths of the Mexican capital.

President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the world leaders who have expressed their condolences to the earthquake’s victims and offered to provide assistance to the Mexican government.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mexico affected by today’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake and other recent natural disasters,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement. “We stand ready to provide assistance should our neighbors request our help.”

“Everyone in central Mexico is in my thoughts and prayers following today’s powerful earthquake,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti in his statement also noted Los Angeles “shares close and unbreakable bonds of culture, family, and friendship with the Mexican people — and we are bound together by a special understanding of the devastating impact of natural disaster.”

“We mourn the tragic loss of life, and send our best wishes for a full recovery in all of the communities affected,” he added.

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