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The relief just after the earthquake that has ravaged the south-west of Mexico

The country has just been hit by the most powerful earthquake it has experienced since a century. And it is, since, swept away by hurricanes to heavy rain.

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The relief just after the earthquake that has ravaged the south-west of Mexico
The back-and-forth of Boeing 727 aircraft and Black Hawk helicopter gives vertigo on tarmac of military airport of Ixtepec in State of Oaxaca in south-western Mexico. The units of army and police transporting food for hundreds of thousands of people of this region that is ravaged, September 7, by earthquake most powerful in country (an 8.2 on Richter scale) since a century. Time is of essence. Since Thursday, 14 September, torrential rains worsen crisis so that humanitarian apparatus of government is criticized.

" Every day, we receive 40 tons of food, medicines, hygiene products and blankets, " says general Alonzo Duarte, responsible for receipt of aid in State of Oaxaca, in collaboration with Red Cross. Out of 98 people who have died because of earthquake, whose epicenter was located near coast of neighboring State of Chiapas (south), 78 have died in this region. Since n, 9 500 military personnel are deployed in se two affected areas. At bottom of a huge hangar filled with mountains of boxes of canned goods, diapers and bottled water, command center of civil protection identifies and locates damage on cards. In region, more than 12 000 buildings would be damaged or destroyed.

This balance sheet, on remand, could rise, because Mexico is currently victim of a series of natural disasters. Hurricane Max (category 1) – finally, downgraded to a tropical storm when it hit on Thursday, pacific coast furr to north, generates heavy rain. Anor hurricane, Norma (category 1), should hit on Monday 18 September, State of Baja California (north-west), worsening wear in State of Oaxaca. Not counting 1 900 aftershocks of earthquake that can be felt for nine days, including a magnitude 6.1.

Juchitán, a town devastated

seven kilometers from here, re are piles of rubble sits at entrance of Juchitán, city most devastated (37 deaths). Houses collapsed, church towers cracked, city hall collapsed... This town of 75 000 people looks like a battle field. Diggers agitated in its dusty streets, littered with debris. In courtyard of technological university of Juchitán, turned into shelters, victims are trying to dry, between two showers, ir clos, despite wetness.

Under a huge plastic tarp, Jesus Martinez, 32 years old, holds a baby in her arms. "We no longer sleeps. We are afraid of aftershocks and flooding. "On 7 September, this worker and his family escaped death by getting out of ir house just before roof collapsed. Ors have not had this chance. Tears slide across face of Margarita Orozco when she tells how her far was crushed by a falling wall. In company of her mor, schoolgirl of 16 years old in line in front of gymnasium of university, which became a centre for collection and distribution of food.

A side is parked an army truck, equipped with huge ovens and cooking hobs. "It has a capacity of 2,000 meals, three times per day," says captain Alberto Ramos. A few meters away, a mobile medical unit welcomes patients : 1 125 doctors and nurses roam region. "There is a lot of diarrhoea and respiratory infections because of dust," says a doctor who is concerned about risk of an outbreak of dengue fever linked to rains. According to captain Ramos, " more and more people come to feed and treat in quarantine of interim housing installed in State of Oaxaca ". But only 300 people relief sleep here in tents provided by army. "People don't want to leave ir homes for fear of ft," said officer.

Diversion of humanitarian aid

Everywhere in Juchitán, families are installed in front of ir homes devastated. Sitting on plastic chairs or lying on a mattress elevated by cinder blocks, y protect mselves from wear under makeshift tarps. "At night my children make round, armed with machetes to deter thieves," says Rosario Piñeda, 52 years old, who likes to be supplied by army to city centre. But anger rumbles in peripheral districts. "Here, it is forgotten by military ", plague Rosita Gomez, 36, who lived in a hut in jail, blown by earthquake.

According to press, using punishment also to reach many isolated villages. Ors point to diversion by municipal officials of humanitarian aid collected locally. Charges confirmed in press by delegates of Red Cross. "They sell food or mint against a vote in ir favour for next elections in 2018 ", lambasted Abelardo Sanchez, merchant, 63 years of age.

in Face of emergency, civil society is mobilized in major cities of country, including Mexico. The famous painter Francisco Toledo, a native of Juchitán, has assembled a group of artists and intellectuals to collect donations. "We send food, but also cooking pots and charcoal for people to cook between neighbors," explains Mr. Toledo reached by telephone. On spot, it is his assistant, Ana Hernandez, who manages supply of twenty and a community kitchens have been installed in streets. "The population must organize itself to address corruption and clientelism ", justification of this thirty-year-old who thinks that " crisis is only beginning ".

For his part, president, Enrique Peña Nieto, multiplies displacements in States of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Friday, September 15, it revised downward number of flood victims : y would be 100 000 in State of Oaxaca, and no 800 000 as announced previously. But Ms. Hernandez does not believe in light of extent of damage. This census is crucial to unlock all of 312 million euros from fund of natural disasters and € 125 million of insurance taken out by government to start reconstruction work. The authorities help all victims to restore ir roof ? The question on everyone's lips in Juchitán, epicentre of distress of a region, where seven out of ten inhabitants are poor.


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