We just sent advance teams directly to Mexico to get this set up on about 48-hour’s notice and coordinated with the embassy to work out a schedule which mainly involved the First Lady arriving, going to Los Pinos, meeting with de la Madrid, giving him the check, touring some sites of devastation around the city, meeting with the embassy staff and saying some words with them and then flying on to California. Then I went back to the airport at 3 a.m. to meet Ambassador Gavin. She is not going to be able to do anything material. (The disaster exposed the fact that government corruption had allowed for lax enforcement of building codes.) We weren’t even sure they would be able to be sent the first couple of days. She was surrounded by this mob of people. They were busy digging; it was dark. In response, citizens organized their own rescue brigades. That one wiped out much of the remaining communications and then collapsed many buildings that had been severely damaged the day before. We hurried through the calling because we knew the phone system in Mexico City was progressively failing as the central exchanges were literally falling down. I stayed in the Embassy the day and night of the first quake until about 4:00 a.m. Tuesday's earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Heavy machinery, medical supplies, and excavation equipment descended into the city to help with rescue efforts. I remember many stories about heroism during those next few days. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government or of ADST. Mexico certainly did not plan for earthquakes…. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy starting in March 1998. I had been officially appointed by the DCM when he left, to be in charge. A lot of countries don’t plan for earthquakes. I believe it was 30 or 40,000. In the beginning we prepared sit-reps [situation reports, i.e., cables done during a crisis] on an hourly basis. ), Stanley Zuckerman  On September 21, 1999, an earthquake in Taiwan killed more than 2,400 people, destroyed or damaged thousands of buildings and left an estimated 100,000 people homeless. Americans are very generous and they immediately began to collect and provide goods to load up airplanes. Most of these people interacted with Mexican lower level government officials and with the Mexican population. As an aftershock struck on September 20, the Mexican government then announced that it would be willing to accept help. They pulled a few survivors out of the rubble, but mostly these buildings just came right down. It was appropriate to speak publicly about issues relating to our interests, but dangerous to tell Mexicans how to manage their own affairs, at least in public. Though the epicenter for the 1985 earthquake was over 200 miles away from Mexico City, the disaster nearly flattened the capital. The 1985 Mexico City earthquake was definitely one of the most devastating natural disasters in history. Mexico’s president, Miguel de la Madrid (1934-2012), was criticized for his government’s weak response to the disaster. On September 19, 1985, the Mexico City area was struck by a devastating earthquake that killed at least 9,500 people. Mexicans spooked by earthquake on anniversary of 1985 quake Mexico: Earthquake rocked Mexico City on Tuesday by a magnitude 7.1 quake which killed at least 100 people in the capital and 230 nationwide, 32 years to the day after another deadly temblor hit the city. I went to the airport to meet the Chargé d’Affaires, Morris Busby, who was returning from Northern Mexico. They were digging with their hands, or small shovels, but with no heavy equipment, by the light of automobile headlights. In addition, 250,000 people lost their homes, and … As I noted above, the Navy Secretariat, which was in charge of disaster relief, was destroyed on the morning of the quake. COWAL:  I think the most controversial thing that he [Ambassador Gavin] did, at least in my time there, happened just before I arrived. COWAL: Well, they would sometimes mention it, and that would cause problems, or they wouldn’t mention it, and that would cause problems, of course, with the embassy. I really got my appreciation for the damage at 11 o’clock that night. The leading newspaper of the day was called Excélsior, and it was truly an awful newspaper. More than 10,000 people died as a result of the quake, some 30,000 others were injured and an estimated 250,000 people were left homeless. Economic and Political Counselor. He may have been right, but being right was not necessarily the objective of diplomacy. He got a helicopter and he flew over and counted the number of buildings down, and many of them were apartment buildings. Then I took Gavin through some of these neighborhoods. The Administrative Counselor, Doug Watson, a tremendous help and calming influence, came in at 9:00 a.m. and we had to decide what to do. Despite the fact that the disaster was one of the most powerful and destructive quakes ever to hit a populated area of the United States, ...read more, The 1964 Alaska earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America, struck Alaska’s Prince William Sound, about 74 miles southeast of Anchorage. I took the stairs down to the lobby, and went across the street to the Sheraton Hotel. And even when Presidential orders were given, they were sometimes not followed, or could not be followed. It was still run totally by the PRI. We had to take care of them. So there was probably 100,000 tourists. The first implosions were the biggest event of the week. At around 7:19 a.m. on September 19, 1985, Mexico City, one of the world’s largest urban areas, was jolted by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake, one of the strongest to ever hit the area. On Sept. 19, 1985, an earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City. However, much of the damage was in Mexico City, which was constructed on an ancient lake bed whose soft sediments amplify seismic waves. September 19, 2008 (The earthquake of 19-Sep-1985) One of the worst natural disasters in the Americas occurred 23 years ago today, when at 7:19 am local time an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 struck in the subduction zone off the west coast of Mexico. They were perturbed at the Ambassador’s estimate for some reason, but I am convinced the real total was closer to his estimate. On September 19, 1985, at 7:18 in the morning, the residents of Mexico City were jolted awake by an 8.1-magnitude earthquake, one of the strongest to ever hit the area. Every minute, people came into my office to ask about a myriad of subjects, both personal and professional. Ambassador Gavin had to go to de La Madrid on some issues in order that we could help effectively. The building shook like hell. They needed that much space to lay out the corpses. He had a tendency shared by almost all politically appointed ambassadors, including [Patrick] Lucey at times, to sometimes speak out on Mexican affairs as if they were presidents of Mexico rather than ambassadors to the country. It was pandemonium. That continued for five years. It was the only time no one paid much attention to the American Ambassador. It had a magnitude of 8.1, and the number of people killed added up to 10,000 deaths. T he earthquake that struck Mexico City on Tuesday hit on the same exact calendar date on which the capital was hit by a violent earthquake in 1985. At any rate, he counted the number of buildings down and he made two observations to the press as he got off the helicopter. They had spent a lot of time together as children. That was my view. They had left me in charge of the Mission but Washington didn’t know that. Some people said later that I was too calm and didn’t appear very sympathetic. Five people were reported killed, many were injured, and extensive damage occurred in the vicinity of Norcia. Gavin felt that sometimes you had to deal publicly with them…. So they wouldn’t just report the facts and then put their editorial opinion on the editorial page, saying he shouldn’t have spoken this way or he didn’t have the facts corrected, it would all be interwoven in the same story. His Spanish was impeccable. Major quake of 7 4 magnitude hits mexico so susceptible to earthquakes 1985 mexico city earthquake 2017 central mexico earthquake mexico earthquake kills hundreds Mexico Earthquake Strongest In A Century Kills Dozens The New York TimesHere S What We Know About Mexico Earthquake Abc News Australian Broadcasting CorporationMexico S Strongest Earthquake … 1985: Mexico suffers devastating earthquake A massive earthquake has hit Mexico not far from its capital, Mexico City, causing untold casualties and widespread damage. Western Mexico is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes with the Pacific plate and Cocos plate moving against the North American plate actively. Within the next couple hours, we made sure the local Mexican staff was ok. His mother was born in Mexico, in Sonora. Robert S. Pastorino The powerful earthquake killed more than 10,000 and left another 30,000 others injured and as many as a quarter of a million people homeless. The 8.1-magnitude quake struck Mexico City on Sept. 19, 1985, followed by a 7.5-magnitude aftershock one day later. I let it shake (what else could I do?) I remember there was a big deal when we brought down to Mexican City an American company to implode buildings. I was in the Embassy in my office at 7:30 in the morning. Since I’d gone through earthquakes in San Francisco, and the big one in Caracas in our first assignment, I wasn’t scared or nervous. First Lady Nancy Reagan toured Mexico City with U.S. As Mexico City is situated on an ancient lakebed plateau … National Security Council’s Staff Director for Latin America from 1985 to 1986. Most of them came in to the Embassy to work. But I was more at ease because Ambassador Gavin and Busby were both back. I liaised with the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance[in USAID] and we got a check cut for a million dollars. With more than 16 million residents, the city had been growing at a ludicrous rate – over 4% annually through the 1970s, with a growth rate of close to 40% in the city’s periphery. I was quickly told that this was probably going to happen so it’s not a question of whether it is desirable or not, it is a question of making it happen. On this day in 1985, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake rocked Mexico City and its surrounding environs at 9:17 a.m. EDT (7:17 a.m. local time). On the other hand, on one of the first days, I called a Congressman in Los Angeles and asked him not to send a plane load of supplies, because they were not things that were needed. At first, the president rejected offers of international aid and played down the damage caused by the quake. The day after the earthquake I was called at the NSC and asked how do you think the Mexicans would react to the First Lady coming to Mexico? Yes, it was not the Soviet Union. To this day I can’t remember a word I said. Did you know? The Marine guards of course were there. The next day there were a number of lesser quakes, the strongest of which measured 7.8. Posted in Mexico City as a Minister Counselor for Public Affairs from 1985 to 1989, Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal gives insight into some controversies surrounding Ambassador Gavin during her interview with Charles Stuart Kennedy beginning August 2001. It did more damage to some of the Embassy’s residences, fortunately, not mine. I cannot believe that the government actually impeded the rescue efforts that brave civilians had begun. It turned out I was in charge of the Embassy. Otherwise I think it would have been much greater, because a lot of people were still out of the city or in small buildings and so on, not in these huge office towers. Sally Grooms Cowal Mexico City earthquake of 1985, also called Michoacán earthquake of 1985, severe earthquake that occurred on September 19, 1985, off the coast of the Mexican state of Michoacán, causing widespread death and injuries and catastrophic damage in Mexico’s capital, Mexico City. I told the State Department Operations Center that I was speaking on behalf of the Chargé and that the American staff was fine. What the aftershock did was make many people really panic. To this day, Embassy people remember that event and the talk I gave. By the second day I think it could take airplanes because the runways were indeed not damaged. Almost always no smoke, no dust, and every brick falls right where it’s supposed to. The deaths were so numerous that they had to use the baseball stadium as an outdoor morgue. Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. We landed in Mexico and went through this program which involved going to Los Pinos, giving the check, having a little talk with de la Madrid, and going around touring a number of sites. It was autumn, September. https://www.history.com/topics/natural-disasters-and-environment/1985-mexico-city-earthquake. Most of Alaska’s mainland felt the magnitude 9.2 earthquake, which wobbled Seattle’s Space Needle some 1,200 miles ...read more, Mexico City, Mexico’s largest city and the most populous metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, is also known as Distrito Federal, or the federal district. Country Mexico Location Mexico City Brief Overview of the Disaster On September 19, 1985, at 7:19 a.m., Mexico City was struck by an earthquake that measured 8.1 on the Richter scale and lasted more than a minute and a half. I was lucky in that the phones were still working and I called home and found that my family and the house were unharmed. 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