Death toll now at 90 as aftershocks rattle southern Mexico
Christopher Sherman Associated Press
Life for many has moved outdoors in the quake-shocked city of Juchitan, where a third of the homes are reported uninhabitable and repeated aftershocks have scared people away from many structures still standing.
The city on Sunday was littered with rubble from Thursday night's magnitude 8.1 earthquake, which killed at least 90 people across southern Mexico — at least three dozen of them in Juchitan itself.
Officials in Oaxaca and Chiapas states said thousands of houses and hundreds of schools had been damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people were reported to be without water service.
Many people continued to sleep outside, fearful of more collapses, as strong aftershocks continued to rattle the town, including a magnitude 5.2 jolt early Sunday.
Some Juchitecos seeking solace trekked through the destruction to find an open-air Mass on Sunday since many of the churches were either damaged or left vacant until they could be checked.
On Sunday evening, Bishop Oscar Campos Contreras conducted Mass for about 200 people at an open-air basketball court next to a collapsed school and in front of the heavily damaged St. Vicente Ferrer church, which lost one bell tower and very nearly the other.
Campos told those gathered that Mass would continue to be held outdoors for the foreseeable future, "because here we feel safer."
Friends and family embraced and cried, overcome with emotion stored for days.
The bishop's homily was part lesson and part pep talk for a community stunned by the destruction.
"There is no one who can say: 'Nothing happened to me because of my money, because of my strength or my youth or my prestige or my fame nothing happened,'" Campos said. "We are all weak."
Yesenia Cruz Jimenez was relieved to hear Mass would be held outdoors. Her house broke apart and her family is still sleeping in the yard, suffering rain and aftershocks.
"There is nowhere safe in town," she said. "It is safer here and people can concentrate better in this place."
Local officials said they had counted nearly 800 aftershocks of all sizes since the big quake, and the U.S. Geological Survey counted nearly 60 with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.
Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat said Sunday that the death toll in his state had risen to 71, while officials have reported 19 killed in Chiapas and Tabasco states.
Juchitan's downtown streets grew increasingly congested Sunday as dump trucks and heavy equipment hauled away debris and pushed smaller piles of debris into larger mountains of rubble.
Teams of soldiers and federal police with shovels and sledgehammers fanned out across neighborhoods to help demolish damaged buildings. Volunteers, many teens from religious or community groups in surrounding towns that were not as severely hit, turned out in force to distribute water and clothing or lend a hand.
Help was slower to arrive in Union Hidalgo, a town of about 20,000 people about 30 minutes to the east. Collapsed homes pocked neighborhoods there, and the town lacked electricity, water and cellphone service.
Delia Cruz Valencia stood in a puddle-filled street overseeing demolition of what remained of her sister's house next door. Her sister took their mother for medical treatment outside the city before the earthquake and had not been able to make her way back. Men with pry bars ripped away the bottom half of a brick and stucco exterior wall to rescue a large wooden wardrobe because the house was too unstable to access through the door.
Cruz said she was next door with her two daughters when the earthquake struck shortly before midnight Thursday.
"We all three hugged, but even so we were moving. We were pushed from here to there" by the rolling earth, she said.
When she reached the street, she saw a cloud of dust rising from the house her sister shared with their mother. Cruz's great-grandfather had built it a century ago.
"If my sister had been here, she wouldn't have been found alive," Cruz said, choking back tears.
Mexico's education secretary, Aurelio Nuno, announced that schools will remain closed Monday in Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Back in Juchitan, the general hospital has settled into a temporary home at a school gymnasium, with gurneys parked atop the basketball court.
The hospital's regular building was damaged. Maria Teresa Sales Alvarez said it was "chaos" when the earthquake struck the single-story building, but staff moved patients outside and transferred most of those who required specialized care to other facilities.
Venezuela Delivers Second Shipment of Aid to Cuba
Cuba has received an outpouring of worldwide support and solidarity in the wake of the Category 5 hurricane.
Venezuela sent its second shipment of aid to Cuba Thursday, which was struck by Hurricane Irma last week.
According to the Minister of the People's Power for Interior Relations and Justice of Venezuela, Nestor Luis Reverol Torres, the country has delivered 600 tons of reconstruction materials, electricity supplies and appliances to Cuba, including doors, railings, paint, wash basins, sinks, and ceilings.
“Hurricane Irma has caused severe damage to the island's infrastructure, agricultural sectors and electrical and telecommunications systems,” the Minister tweeted through his official Twitter account, adding that it was under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro that the delivery was made.
The Dominican Republic also sent aid to Cuba Thursday, with a ship from the Dominican Republic's Navy having left the port of Manzanillo loaded with zinc plates, metal doors, mattresses and other goods.
Cuba has received an outpouring of worldwide support and solidarity in the wake of the Category 5 hurricane that left 10 dead and caused extensive damage to infrastructure and housing.
Elsewhere in Latin America, countries such as Bolivia and Ecuador have expressed willingness to send humanitarian aid, with Panama in the midst of sending 90 tons of food and supplies, according to the nation's Secretary of Communication.
Across the globe, Russia has also expressed its willingness to help the Caribbean, while Vietnam is formalizing a plan to send Cuba a shipment of aid.
Hurricane Irma U.S. Death Toll: Storm Brings Destruction To American South
At least seven people in the United States have been killed as a result of Hurricane Irma, adding to the 37 killed in the Caribbean, including 10 in Cuba, ABC News reports. While the death toll could rise as more information comes in, it is relatively low compared to the more than 70 dead in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
Of the total U.S. deaths from injuries linked to Irma so far, at least six were in Florida and one was in Georgia.
Irma broke a number of records, and at one point was a Category 5 hurricane, with winds of up to 185 miles per hour. By the time it hit the Florida Keys, it was a Category 4 hurricane.
Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but reportedly still has winds of up to 60 mph.
During a television news interview on Monday morning, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, "We have got to make sure people understand it is still dangerous. Everybody has got to be patient as we work through this."
The storm, which was roughly 55 miles east of Tallahassee, Florida, around 2 p.m. Eastern time, has led to intense flooding in Charleston, South Carolina, and its effects are being felt as far as Alabama.
Georgia and South Carolina are also both facing tornado warnings, and Irma could potentially bring 50- to 60-mph wind gusts and flooding to Atlanta on Monday night.
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Irma left almost 6 million people without power in Florida, wreaking havoc in the Keys and leaving parts of Miami and Naples underwater. The storm brought record flooding to Jacksonville, while Tampa, which was expected to get hit particularly hard, seems to have been spared major damage for the most part.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Florida, which means the state will receive federal assistance once the storm is over.
According to The New York Times, nearly a million people are already without power in Georgia. So, while the worst of the storm appears to be over, it's not quite finished yet.