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Mexico earthquake death toll rises to 318 as new aftershock hits


The number of those killed continues to rise. Mexicos southwest region remains fearful of further tremors even as it struggles to return to normalcy and officials work to get stranded citizens back in their homes.


A new aftershock hit southwestern Mexico on Sunday, shaking a quake-weary region that was evaluating the damage and counting the bodies from earthquakes and a series of strong subsequent tremors that took place earlier in the week.

Sundays aftershock, measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, had its epicenter in the Chiapas state, which lies on the border to Guatemala. No damage was immediately reported.

On the same day, Mexican officials announced that the death toll from Tuesdays deadly 7.1 quake had risen to 319, with 181 in Mexico City alone, Mexicos Civil Defense Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente tweeted.

The quake was Mexicos deadliest in 32 years.

Mobile services in Mexico city

In the Mexican capital, home to some 20 million, families continued to camp out on the streets in front of demolished buildings, hanging onto hope that missing loved ones could still be pulled from rubble.

Rescuers also kept up their search for survivors, using electronic detecting equipment to narrow their focus to a handful of buildings.

Mexico Citys Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said that almost 17,000 of the citys inhabitants had received attention at 48 shelters set up to provide food, water and protection to those affected by the quake. He also tweeted that over 11,000 had received psychological counseling through mobile medical services.

Buildings: safe or unsafe?

The now faces the challenge of certifying which buildings are structurally safe and can be used, such as schools. Around 7,000 stayed closed over the past week.

Residents are longing for a return to normalcy. The 36-year-old Claudia Avila told Reuters that she would fight her fear and get back to normal life.

"Tomorrow I will take my children back to school," she said, referring to her two sons."They know that if something happens, they must protect themselves. It has been a rude awakening."

Mancera said that the city had reviewed 7,649 buildings and found that 87 percent were inhabitable and needed only minor repairs. The rest required more extensive repairs before habitation or would need to be rebuilt.

On Tuesday, Mexico City was hit by a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake. On Saturday, a strong 6.1 aftershock rocked the state of Oaxaca and was felt in Mexico City, which lies to the areas northeast.

cmb/kl (AP, EFE, Reuters)

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