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Quake Shakes Mexico; At Least 29 Dead, Dozens Injured

October 9, 1995

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A strong earthquake shook Mexico’s Pacific Coast this morning, killing at least 29 people and injuring dozens in southern Jalisco state. High-rise buildings swayed crazily in Mexico City, frightening people into the streets.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 7.5, was the second powerful tremor to hit Mexico in a month. It was felt as far north as Dallas and Oklahoma City.

Jalisco state spokeswoman Claudio Villalobos told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that 14 dead and at least 80 injured were reported from the two small towns of Tenamaxtlan and Ameca, near the Pacific Coast. Both towns were isolated by rockslides and collapsed bridges, and telephone service and power were reported out.

Eight people died in the small town of Cihuatlan, about 18 miles from Manzanillo, Colima state spokesman Mario Cardenas said in a telephone interview. Manzanillo is a major port and tourist center near the quake epicenter.

Manzanillo’s 12-story Hotel Real collapsed, and witnesses and officials said an unknown number of people were trapped and rescue workers were digging through the rubble. They found three unidentified bodies by early afternoon.

``You can see houses destroyed. The injured are everywhere,″ Manzanillo resident Livas de la Garza, who owns a textile shop in town, said in a telephone interview. Many stores and house patios were turned into makeshift first aid centers, he said.

President Ernesto Zedillo, at the request of Colima Gov. Carlos de la Madrid, declared the Manzanillo zone a disaster area, Cardenas said.

Four more were reported killed in La Huerta, a small town in the hardest-hit area, but that report could not be independently confirmed because of poor communications. Two people initially listed as dead in Uruapan, further inland in Guanajuato state, were later reported alive, officials said.

The epicenter was located three miles off the Pacific Coast between the states of Colima and Jalisco, the National Seismological Service said.

The U.S. Geological Survey in Washington, D.C., said the tremor was centered 15 miles southeast of Manzanillo, 325 miles west of Mexico City.

The quake, which gave the capital a severe shaking, also was strongly felt in Michoacan, Lalisco and Puebla states. It struck at 9:37 a.m. (11:37 a.m. EDT), lasted about two minutes and was followed by two immediate, smaller aftershocks.

``I thought I was getting faint but then realized it was a quake,″ said Francisco Garrido Flores, selling orange juice from a street stand in Mexico City. ``It makes you worry that there could me more _ a series.″

Power and telephone service were interrupted for about an hour on the west side of Mexico City. Trading on Mexico’s stock market came to a halt but resumed 40 minutes later.

``It was horrible _ horrible. I just went running down the stairwell,″ said Aurera Villa, a secretary in a high-rise office building on Reforma Avenue, the main thoroughfare. Her nerves, she said, were shaken by the Sept. 14 quake across central Mexico that killed five people and was felt in Mexico City.

``This gave me a tremendous scare,″ said Araceli Guerrero, 21, a receptionist with the bank Banorte. ``I was a student in 1985 when the big quake hit us, and I can’t stand any kind of shaking now.″

Mexico’s ``big quake″ struck on Sept. 19, 1985, with an epicenter 250 miles west of Mexico City, killing at least 6,000 people and destroying or badly damaging thousands of buildings. Most of the casualties were in Mexico City.

Most Mexican quakes occur along a long swath of coastline from the Guatemalan border to a point near Puerto Vallarta, where the Cocos Plate of the earth’s crust is thrusting under the North American Plate.

While Mexico City is often hundreds of miles away from the epicenter, it is vulnerable because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds. They jiggle like jelly when the quake waves hit.

Dallas police received reports of window blinds shaking, floors moving and people losing balance in two downtown office buildings, spokeswoman Vicki Hawkins said. Neither injuries nor damage was reported, she said.

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