MEXICO CITY – A week after the powerful earthquake hit central and southern Mexico, many residents of the Mexican capital still remain homeless on the streets on Tuesday, not knowing where to go and fearing possible burglaries of the belongings they abandoned in their houses.
Merced Silva slept Monday night in a van, along with her husband and three daughters. They used to live in a seven-story building in the Santa Cruz Atoyac neighborhood, which was left damaged by the magnitude-7.1 quake on Sept. 19.
“At the shelter, I do not feel at ease, we are going to look for where we can go, I do not know where it will be,” said Silva, who moved from Pinotepa Nacional town in the southern region of Oaxaca to live in the Mexico City nine years ago.
Her three daughters – four, five and seven years old – who were playing on a step with some stuffed toys given to them by volunteers, said they “miss” their home.
However, Silva has not dared to return home since the quake struck the city although the cosmetic products she sold for a living were all left there.
“Many people want to return, but where are you going to go back to?” said Silva.
Javier Galindo was also among those taking refuge in vans and set-up sleeping tents.
“We were afraid to go back up (in the building) because of the aftershocks, if there is one, the building might fall on us,” Galindo, accompanied by his step daughter Regina Garcia, told EFE.
However, his family refused to move away from the vicinity of the building they lived in, saying that despite its bad condition, there might be strange people stealing their possessions.
Only a couple of blocks away, an apartment building collapsed completely. On the rubble that still remains there are several wreaths of white flowers that people placed in remembrance of those who died.
Mexican authorities recorded a total of 38 collapsed buildings and a death toll of 194 in the country’s capital, out of 333 deaths nationwide. According to official figures, about 25,000 people have taken refuge in shelters provided by the Ministry of Social Development. These figures, however, exclude a large number of people sleeping on the street.
The neighborhood where Galindo lives was already affected once by the powerful earthquake in 1985. According to Galindo, the authorities reviewed their home after the quake and they said it was still habitable.
After the Sept. 19 tremor the authorities, again, came to review their home.
“They do not say anything, we do not know what they are going to do, where they are going to send us. We do not even know where we are going to live,” said Regina, 15.