Entire towns in Mexico flattened as scale of earthquake damage emerges

Thousands of left homeless in towns and communities outside Mexico City as official rescue and relief efforts struggle to cope with the widespread destruction

A car crushed by debris from damaged houses in Jojutla de Juarez, Mexico, on 20 September 2017. Photograph: Enrique Castro Sanchez/AFP/Getty Images

Hopes that rescuers will find more survivors trapped beneath collapsed buildings in central Mexico were fading on Thursday, as the scale of the devastation wreaked by the country’s deadliest earthquake for a generation started to become clear.

At least 250 people died and 1,900 were injured in the 7.1 magnitude quake which struck Mexico on Tuesday – 32 years to the day after the country’s deadliest earthquake killed thousands and laid waste to the capital city. The death toll will certainly rise as rescue workers continue to search the precarious ruins amid the threat of aftershocks, collapsing rubble and gas leaks.

Parts of Mexico City – which is built on a drained lakebed – have been devastated, but details of the destruction outside the capital are only now starting to emerge, with reports of entire towns flattened and thousands of people left homeless.

Directly south of Mexico City in Morelos state, the death toll stands at 73. The damage was especially acute in the municipality of Jojutla, where houses were reduced to rubble.

“Jojutla is damaged badly, but there are communities that have suffered the same or worse,” said Óscar Cruz, a spokesman with the local Catholic diocese, who added all 89 Catholic parishes in the state suffered damage. “What’s tragic is that the damage is worst in the poorest pueblos.”

In Puebla state, authorities have declared a state of “extraordinary emergency” in 112 municipalities – equivalent to 51% of the region. The death toll in Puebla has risen to 43.

At least 1,700 homes have been declared uninhabitable and should be demolished over coming months, according to the state governor. The number could well rise after experts finish more exhaustive inspections.

In Metepec, a quaint colonial town, almost every house and business has suffered structural damage, raising fears among residents that the rebuild could take years.

Calls for urgent help and supplies in towns and communities outside the capital continue to be posted on social networks as official rescue and relief efforts struggle to cope with the widespread destruction.

Hopes that survivors could still be found have been boosted by the…

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