Mexico City earthquake evokes memories of 1985 tragedy

Mexico Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez in Austin shared memories of the 1985 earthquake as well.

Destruction and devastation surround Mexico's capital following Tuesday's 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rocked Mexico City.

"Today, with social media it was immediately you can realize the size of the problem," explained Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the Consul General of Mexico in Austin.

The earthquake ripped through homes, businesses and schools.

"It was particularly depressing and sad that on this same day 32 years ago that a terrible thing happened in Mexico City," said Gutierrez, while referring to the September 19, 1985 earthquake.

Several thousand people were killed - and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.

"I remember the surprise, I remember the unbelievable sight of buildings collapsed," said Gutierrez, who was in Mexico City at the time.

That tragedy ushered in new safety regulations that Gutierrez says has helped buildings withstand such tremors.

"Our construction standards changes as a result of that terrible experience," explained Gutierrez.

Tuesday's earthquake has left millions without power, limiting communication.

"We need some patience from the public in general.  The Foreign Ministry, for example, had to be evacuated and communications were lost for several hours," said Gutierrez. 

Officials are now utilizing social media to get the word out on updates.

Gutierrez's own parents lost power from this latest earthquake.

"It creates a lot of anxiety, a lot of uncertainty, particularly for those like me who have lived through the September 1985 experience," Gutierrez said.

The National Committee on Emergencies is currently in permanent sessions evaluating the situation and coordinating emergency efforts. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said state-run emergency services and public health clinics are open and available to the entire population.

"Just in Mexico City, we are talking about a metropolitan area that is composed of approximately 20 million people who live not only in the city but in the surrounding area. And the earthquake was of such magnitude that it was felt all over the place," said Gutierrez.

It's still too early to determine if Mexico will request international assistance - though the Governor's Office and Secretary of State have both reached out directly to offer support if needed.

The Mexican Consulate General in Austin recently moved offices, and is now located at 5202 E Ben White Blvd. #150, Austin, TX 78741.  Since the move, and in part due to increased demand for services since Hurricane Harvey, the phone system at their offices have been down.  In the meantime, Gutierrez urges those to check online and their social media accounts for updates.

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