Earthquake in Mexico's Puebla State

20 Sep 2017

At least 104 people have died in Puebla, Morelos, and Mexico states and Mexico City following a strong magnitude-7.1 earthquake that struck the afternoon of September 19. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as response operations continue; Mexican armed forces have been deployed to assist with search and rescue operations throughout the region. Approximately 27 buildings - including homes, offices, and schools - have collapsed in Mexico City. The Ministry of Labor building sustained extensive damage, and fires are ongoing across the city; at least one explosion due to a gas leak has occurred. 

Flight operations were resuming in the late afternoon of September 19 at Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) following damage assessments. Reports indicate that pavement outside of Terminal 2 was cracked. It remains unclear how the damage may impact arriving or departing passengers. Several arriving flights were diverted or held at departing airports during the suspension. Residual flight delays and cancellations will likely continue through the evening of September 19 until the flight backlog is cleared. Short- and medium-haul passenger flights are more likely to be affected by potential disruptions than international routes. Most of Mexico City's Metro lines are fully operational; however, Line A and Line 12 are only partially in service as of the evening of September 19. 

Infrastructure in nearby Puebla and Cuernavaca was most likely compromised during the earthquake; however, it could take several days for the scope of the damage throughout the region to be realized. Widespread utility outages are likely in central and southern Mexico; early estimates from Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) indicate that 3.8 million customers are without power as of the evening of September 19. As with previous earthquakes, several public and educational facilities have closed through until at least September 20 so authorities can assess the structural integrity of buildings. 

Officials will temporarily close roads, rail lines, and other infrastructure to check for damage, especially in regions near the epicenter in the coming days. Disruptions will occur during any shutdowns, but service will probably resume quickly if no damage is found. Aftershocks highly likely in the area in the coming days and could lead to additional landslides, utility outages, and infrastructure damages. 

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