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AP Photos: A look at Mexico City buildings devastated quake

September 19, 2018
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This photo combination shows the site at Alvaro Obregon 286 where an office building collapsed in last year's 7.1 magnitude earthquake, entombing 49, during rescue operations on Sept. 22, 2017, top, and one year later, on Sept. 16, 2018, long after the rubble and an adjacent building had been removed, in the Roma Norte area of Mexico City. The building had been deemed so unsafe by government experts that a government agency was warned not to rent offices there in 1997. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Cracked and leaning buildings remain uninhabited and displaced people live in outdoor camps a year after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake killed 228 people in Mexico’s capital and 141 more in nearby states.

The demolition of hundreds of tottering structures has been delayed by physical and legal hurdles, while some owners have carried out cosmetic repairs leaving the buildings vulnerable to the next earthquake to hit Mexico City and surrounding areas.

The slow pace of demolition and rebuilding is frustrating to those who lost their homes and those left living amid shattered eyesores that look like they could collapse at any time onto sidewalks and streets still cordoned off after the Sept. 19, 2017, quake.

Of about 411 buildings marked for demolition, only 62 have been taken down, and almost 1,000 more that were seriously damaged have yet to be reinforced.

The destruction and slow pace of recovery from the quake has placed in doubt Mexico City’s reliance on self-policing - developers hire the regulatory experts who certify the safety of the buildings they put up - and its ability to punish those responsible.

Nobody has been successfully prosecuted for building collapses, even though experts found evidence of deficient construction in several cases where builders submitted false paperwork, used cheap materials or simply built atop older, unstable structures. Nor has a single apartment building been reconstructed.

What little progress has been made seems to have come from demolition workers who break down the upper floors of buildings too tall to use heavy machinery, and quake victims who have slept outside, demonstrated and blocked streets to pressure the government.

People affected complain that authorities have set up a daunting bureaucratic pyramid of paperwork for victims to get their buildings evaluated, repaired, demolished or replaced. About a half of people in Mexico City don’t have proof of ownership or titles to their properties, creating a roadblock in their path to restitution.

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