19S earthquake drill canceled in Mexico over COVID-19 concerns

Civil Protection authorities canceled the drill scheduled for September 19 to prevent COVID-19 infections

19S earthquake drill canceled in Mexico over COVID-19 concerns
Two devastating earthquakes struck Mexico City the same day in 1985 and 2017
English 19/09/2020 08:56 Mexico City Salvador Corona, Eduardo Hernández & Claudia González/EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 08:56
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Due to COVID-19, the earthquake drill that was scheduled for September 19 has been canceled, as informed by the National Coordination of Civil Protection (CNPC) and the Mexico City government.

The objective is to prevent crowds that would put people’s health at risk and jeopardize emergency services.

“Once the health emergency concludes, the 2019 agreement on three drills per year will be resumed in order to strengthen the culture of prevention and self-protection,” Civil Protection authorities said in a press release.

Instead of the drill, authorities called Mexico City inhabitants to review and update their Family Plan for Risks Prevention, identify lesser-risk areas inside and outside their houses and workplaces, establish roles in case of an earthquake, and having an emergency backpack ready that must contain hygiene and personal protection supplies like face masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer.

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“It’s important to remind the population that, in case of a significant earthquake and/or the activation of the official seismic alert, they must follow Civil Protection authorities’ recommendations as well as follow the corresponding health measures.”

Some of the main actions that must be taken into account in case of an earthquake are to remain calm; retreat to lesser-risk areas near beams, columns, or load-bearing walls; not using elevators or stairs; get away from windows, mirrors, and objects that can fall; when the earthquake has finished, go out with precaution through evacuation routes that should be previously identified and obstacles-free.

It must be stressed that the most recent national earthquake drill took place on January 20 and had the participation of 100,000 buildings throughout the 32 states of the Mexican Republic and with almost 2,000 municipalities. It is estimated that some 50 million people participated in the drill.

The Mexico City government announced the seismic alert will not be activated unless there is a real earthquake.

According to the Ministry of Risk Management and Civil Protection, the Mexico City Seismic Alert has 25,622 speakers connected to the C5.

The earthquake drill was also suspended in the State of Mexico because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September 19, Mexico mourns the victims of the devastating earthquakes that took place on the same day in 1985 and 2017 in Mexico City.

According to calculations, the 1985 earthquake caused at least 10,000 human deaths; the official numbers say they were 4,541, and 16,200 buildings were affected, 14% of which totally or partially collapsed, according to the then General Management for the Institute for the Security of Construction in the Federal District, and caused material losses for over USD $4,100 million. Despite everything, the tragedy translated into the creation of civil protection programs and the creation of the Seismic Alert System for Mexico City, the antecedent for the current Mexican Seismic Alert System, among other actions.


32 years after one of the most devastating earthquakes in the country’s history and only a couple of hours after a drill that was meant to commemorate the 1985 tragedy, a new earthquake struck Mexico City leaving a toll of 38 collapsed buildings. Other constructions were added to the equation, suffering irreparable damage.


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