NEW YORK/MEXICO CITY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has deployed four psychosocial support teams in several areas of Mexico City and is closely evaluating the psychological and medical needs in the state of Morelos following the powerful earthquake that struck on September 19, said the international medical humanitarian organization on Thursday.
MSF activated its emergency response following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake—with its epicenter in Axochiapan in Morelos state—which struck Mexico City, Puebla, Cuernavaca, and several other municipalities in the center of the country. The preliminary death toll is 228 people. The number of injured is not yet confirmed but is estimated to be in the thousands, with most people suffering from non-life-threatening injuries.
Within the first 24 hours following the earthquake, MSF began providing psychosocial support to people in areas where structures had collapsed. MSF has deployed its teams—comprised of psychologists and social workers—to several points where rescue efforts are still underway. MSF teams are helping families cope and overcome this moment of crisis. MSF is also monitoring the medical and psychological needs in the other affected states, especially in Morelos, where the teams are assessing if essential non-food items should be distributed.
Thirty-nine buildings have collapsed in Mexico City, while in the state of Morelos at least 2,000 houses have been damaged. The cities of Jojutla and Cuernavaca have been very badly affected. The Mixteca Poblana area has been hit the hardest; in more than 100 municipalities, public buildings, schools, colonial-era structures, and more than 60 churches have collapsed or been damaged. Most of the people in these states have experienced water, gas, and electricity outages, and, in some cases, have lost telephone service too.
The damage from Tuesday’s earthquake exacerbates existing damage from another powerful earthquake, which struck southern Mexico on September 7, measuring an 8.1 on the Richter scale. In Juchitán in Oaxaca state, the region of that state hit hardest by the September 7 earthquake, an MSF mobile team is providing primary healthcare and mental health support. This team has evaluated 12 municipalities and is currently concentrating its assistance in the municipality of San Francisco Ixhuatán. In addition, MSF is planning psychosocial activities to support people in the municipality of San Mateo del Mar.