OAXACA, MEXICO (September 19, 2017) – Missionary Nils Clauson said today that pastors he has heard from have reported that their members and churches are safe following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the central part of the country early this afternoon. Some pastors have not reported yet, however.
Clauson emailed shortly before 1:30 p.m. today, “We just had another major shake.”
By this evening, the death toll had risen to 136, and Mexican officials expect it to climb as emergency responders and others sort through the rubble of collapsed buildings.
Clauson said several people had contacted him to say they were OK, and Marisol Martinez, president of the Mexican Covenant Church, had heard from others.
Less than two hours before today’s quake, Clauson had sent an email detailing a trip he made last week to visit with Covenanters responding to the deadly September 8 earthquake that struck off the coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas states.
That quake destroyed more than 10,000 homes and claimed the lives of more than 90 people.
Clauson traveled to the coastal town of San Mateo del Mar, a community of roughly 13,000 people, with representatives of Covenant ministries Fuentes Libres and MAEM (Ministering with the Abused and Exploited in Mexico).
Political instability in the area had prevented an organized government response and the situation at times has been chaotic, Clauson said.
The area has continued to experience aftershocks, the strongest being a 5.1 magnitude today. It remains an area living in fear.
“The primary livelihood in the town is fishing,” Clauson said. “At the time of our visit, no one had begun fishing again for fear of being at sea during another quake and possible tsunami, and for the need to be with their families.”
Many of the buildings in the area were toppled and a great portion of those still standing had sustained severe damage and probably not habitable. “I think the occupants would agree with me as from what we could gather that 100 percent of the residents were sleeping either on the street in front of their home or at a shelter in a nearby town. The near constant aftershocks have everyone in fear that more buildings may tumble.”