Mexico City, 21 September 2017 – Médecins Sans Frontières has deployed four of its 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 strong earthquake that took place on Tuesday 19 September. Meanwhile, the medical humanitarian organization continues its activities in several communities in the state of Oaxaca that were affected by another earthquake 12 days before.
Ernestina Fuenleal, 62, speaks with two members of MSF during a First Psychological Attention session in front of her house, which has become uninhabitable after being severely damaged by the earthquake. © Jordi Ruiz Cirera / MSF
Médecins Sans Frontières activated its emergency response following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre 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 sits at 228 people. The number of injured is not yet confirmed but is estimated as being in the thousands, most suffering from non-life-threatening injuries. In the first 24 hours the Médecins Sans Frontières teams began providing psychosocial support to the people in the areas where structures had collapsed. Médecins Sans Frontières has deployed four teams – made up of psychologists and social workers – at several points where rescue efforts are still underway. MSF teams are helping the families to cope and overcome this moment of crisis, and are strengthening the resilience of the population in the face of this stressful situation.
Alfredo Cabrera gives first psychological attention to a resident in San Gregorio. © Jordi Ruiz Cirera / MSF
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 cuts and, in some cases, have lost telephone services too. The consequences of this earthquake add to those caused by the quake on 7 September, which measured 8.1 on the Richter scale and impacted the southern part of the country, mainly the state of Oaxaca. In Juchitán, the region of that state hit hardest by the 7 September earthquake, an Médecins Sans Frontières 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, Médecins Sans Frontières is planning psychosocial activities to support people in the municipality of San Mateo del Mar.
Médecins Sans Frontières is also monitoring the medical and psychological needs in the other affected states, especially in Morelos, where the teams are also assessing if essential non-food items should be distributed.