Early Reports: Mexico City Will Rebound Quickly

It’s not nearly business as usual in Mexico City after yesterday’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake, but early indications are that recovery may be much less prolonged than initially feared.

Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) reopened early this morning, though some damage was sustained and several flights diverted yesterday.

Leopoldo Farias Barlow, executive director of the Mexico City-based trade show and events association AMEREF, e-mailed a brief update to Trade Show Executive. “We are all fine,” he wrote. Farias Barlow also noted some venues had sustained “minor damages that will not affect shows.” Additionally, Mexico Tourism Board released a statement on Tuesday citing that given the facts, “there is no reason for visitors to cancel travel plans to Mexico.”

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) did postpone the World Para Swimming and World Para Powerlifting Championships, set to begin September 30.

Para-powerlifters from 65 countries were to compete at Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium. And swimmers from 60 countries were expected at Francisco Marquez Olympic Swimming Pool.

Nonetheless, the two venues appear to have sustained only minor damage, pending a complete structural inspection. In addition, some hotels set to accommodate athletes and related infrastructure were damaged, according to the website Inside the Games.

Inevitably, comparisons are being made to the catastrophic, 8.1-magnitude Mexico City earthquake which, incredibly enough, occurred on the very same date 32 years ago. That disaster killed 10,000 and collapsed 258 buildings in the downtown historic district alone—including Hotel Regis, a luxury property dating the early 1900s, at which only a wall with a Diego Rivera mural survived.

By comparison, Mexican authorities said yesterday’s quake-related death toll in Mexico City was 94, in a city of some 9 million. Deaths elsewhere put the total loss of life at 225. Rescue efforts continue, particularly in Mexico City, where people remain trapped in the rubble of fallen buildings.

A total of 45 buildings crumbled in the Mexican capital, and another 500 need to be inspected by safety officials, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said this morning.

There have been no reports of the destruction of major meetings hotels or convention centers, nor of any sustaining serious damage.

A major contributing factor to the difference between the two earthquakes in loss of life and damage is a complete overhaul of building codes in Mexico City after 1985. And there have been important earthquake preparedness efforts, as well.

Only hours before yesterday’s quake, the streets of Mexico City overflowed with workers, residents and visitors. It was a citywide earthquake evacuation drill, conducted annually on the anniversary of the 1985 disaster.

No one knew they would be fleeing into the streets again later that day.

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