Mexican capital needs stronger quake protection, says “Mole” rescuer
By Sophie Hares
Thomson Reuters Foundation
22 September 2017
Image courtesy of Variety
As Mexico City rescuers used sniffer dogs and tunneled through rubble in a desperate search for people buried alive under tons of debris from last Tuesday’s earthquake, one said the scale of the damage shows how the city is still unprepared to deal with major tremors.
Tuesday’s 7.1 magnitude quake, which killed at least 286 people, brought down more than 50 buildings in the densely packed city, including a school, and more in the nearby states of Puebla and Morelos. Efforts are still needed to strengthen or retrofit buildings in Mexico City, which stands on an ancient, wobbly lake bed that magnifies the impact of any tremors, experts said.
Measures such as adding structural walls, taking out windows and putting in supports are costly, but substantially improve building safety in earthquake-prone areas, explained Mary Comerio, Professor of the Graduate School and Professor Emerita of Architecture at the College of Environmental Design. Comerio specializes in disaster restoration/recovery and seismic rehabilitation.
“What you see in Mexico City… is older concrete buildings that were not built to a seismic standard, and those will fail,” Comerio said. “It’s very hard in a city the scale of Mexico City to require upgrading of those, but even requirements for new construction in the long run change the risk profile.”
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