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New Earthquake Shakes Jittery Mexico   09/23 11:43

   A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, toppling already damaged 
homes and a highway bridge and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two 
even more powerful quakes this month that together have killed nearly 400 
people.

   MEXICO CITY (AP) -- A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, 
toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge and causing new alarm in a 
country reeling from two even more powerful quakes this month that together 
have killed nearly 400 people.

   The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centered 
about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of 
Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7.

   It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier 
quake, which was the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years and killed at 
least 90 people.

   There were some early reports of damage in Oaxaca. The Federal Police agency 
posted images online showing a collapsed bridge that it said had already been 
closed due to damage after the Sept. 7 quake.

   Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitan, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice 
still shaking that the new quake felt "horrible."

   "Homes that were still standing just fell down," Cruz said. "It's hard. We 
are all in the streets."

   Cruz belongs to a social collective and said that when the new shaking 
began, she was riding in a truck carrying supplies to victims of the earlier 
quake.

   Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonala, in the southern state of 
Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the 
strongest movements he has felt since then.

   "Since Sept. 7 it has not stopped shaking," Hernandez.

   U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said the new temblor was an 
aftershock of the 8.1 quake, and after a jolt of that size even buildings left 
standing can be more vulnerable.

   "So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail," Caruso 
said.

   "At the moment the greatest damage has been to the Ixtaltepec bridge, which 
should be rebuilt, and structures with previous damage that collapsed," 
President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted. He said health workers were patrolling 
Juchitan to provide help to anyone who needs it.

   Buildings and street signs swayed and seismic alarms sounded in Mexico City, 
prompting people with fresh memories of Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 temblor that 
has killed at least 295 across the region to flee homes and hotels. Some were 
in tears.

   Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central 
neighborhood and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband.

   "I was frightened because I thought, not again!" Castellanos said.

   Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there were no reports of 
significant new damage in the capital, and rescue efforts related to Tuesday's 
quake were continuing. He reported that two people died of apparent heart 
attacks during the new temblor.

   At the site of an office building that collapsed Tuesday and where an 
around-the-clock search for survivors was still ongoing, rescuers briefly 
evacuated from atop the pile of rubble after the morning quake before returning 
to work.

   As rescue operations stretched into Day 5, residents throughout the capital 
have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. More than 
half the dead --- 157 --- perished in the capital, while another 73 died in the 
state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in 
Oaxaca.

   Along a 60-foot stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled 
under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the 
four-story-high pile of rubble behind them.

   "There are moments when you feel like you're breaking down," said Patricia 
Fernandez Romero, who was waiting Friday for word on the fate of her 
27-year-old son. "And there are moments when you're a little calmer. ... They 
are all moments that you wouldn't wish on anyone."

   Families have been sleeping in tents, accepting food and coffee from 
strangers, people have organized to present a united front to authorities, who 
they pressed ceaselessly for information.

   They were told that water and food had been passed along to at least some of 
those trapped inside. On Friday morning, after hours of inactivity blamed on 
rain, rescuers were readying to re-enter the site, joined by teams from Japan 
and Israel. Fernandez said officials told them they knew where people were 
trapped on the fourth floor.

   It's the moments between those bits of information that torment the families.

   "It's that you get to a point when you're so tense, when they don't come out 
to give us information," she said. "It's so infuriating."


(KA)

 
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