Shaken to the Core

mexico earthquakeJaelynn Hart / Staff Writer

Three hundred people have died following the earthquake in Mexico. This disaster was the second one to hit the country only two weeks after the 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit the southern regions that killed nearly one hundred people.

On the 32nd anniversary of the Mexico City earthquake that killed nearly 10,000 people in 1985, they were struck again by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shortly after many had just finished taking part in an earthquake drill. In the three hundred deaths, over half were in the country’s capital, according to the Coordinator of National Civil Defense, Luis Felipe Puente.

On Thursday September 21st, cheers erupted from over one thousand volunteers as they finally pulled a survivor from the rubble of Mexico City’s COLONIA Obrera neighborhood. The celebration quickly ceased as the search for survivors continued, adding up to 115 by September 22nd.; search teams from Israel, Japan, and the United States have joined the search mission.

The witnesses of the earthquake have stated that the disaster could have been much worse. Many of the buildings didn’t collapse immediately, giving the people inside time to escape; others crumbled immediately yet left air spaces for survivors. In one miraculous case, an apartment complex collapsed and a heating gas tank slid off of the roof. The 550-pound tank was caught on the trees lining the street which prevented it from exploding.

An indefinite amount of people are staying in shelters around Mexico City after losing their homes; schools have been closed and cities remain without power. President Enrique Peña Nieto has declared a national emergency and requested that people remain indoors until further notice. Despite this, residents have stepped out and joined the search for survivors.

Among the chaos of rescuers shouting orders, someone will raise their fist. In the silence that follows, the gesture will spread as others raise their fists in the unspoken command. Be quiet, they said with closed lips, a life could be in the balance. Authorities and volunteers are asking for total silence as they search for survivors beneath the rubble. Silence is a commodity in times like this and rescue workers raise their hands for quiet as they listen for a cry for help or the faintest breath of a living person beneath the debris.

The hashtag #PuñosAttiba, meaning “fists up,” has gained incredible popularity on social media; posts often include pictures of rescuers holding up the gesture. Although it serves a specific purpose, it also has become a symbol to the people of Mexico: hope, victory, and solidarity. A glimpse into the future and the strength of the nation, one Twitter user has written:

“#PuñosArriba significa silencio. (“Fists up means silence,”)

Pero también significa tenemos fuerza y seguimos de pie.” (“But it also means that we have

strength, and are still standing.”)

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