Mexico Cleans Up From Quake

The cleanup from the earthquake that hit southern Mexico Thursday began almost as soon as the earth finally stopped shaking, CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara reports.

More than 3,000 buildings were damaged, cars were crushed and most of the 20 confirmed deaths -- including an 18-year-old woman -- were the result of falling debris from century-old buildings.

Teresa de Jesus Garcia, 18, died when she ran out of the stationery store where she worked and was hit by falling bricks. Since her weekly pay, the equivalent of $3.20, was her family's main income, friends appealed for help for the girl's mother and grandmother.

Schools across the state of Oaxaca were closed until Monday to allow time for authorities to evaluate damage.


The quake's magnitude registered more than seven on the Richter scale. And, while the death and damage it brought to Mexico was hardly on the scale of recent killer quakes in Taiwan and Turkey, the magnitude of fear it registered in Oaxaca was widespread.

"It just didn't stop, it kept going," remembers Oaxaca resident Milton Sanders. "Shaking one way and then the other."

The quake struck as Oaxaca's governor met with scores of school children. As ripples went out from the epicenter, located between the Pacific resorts of Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, utility poles and palm trees swayed nearly 300 miles away in Mexico City.

Understanding Earthquakes:
One of the more frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects.

Mexico's National Congress fled as a chandelier swung above it, and panic sent hundreds into open streets in several cities.

Experts say the quake could have been much more devastating had it been centered near the Earth's surface. The US Geological Survey's Stewart Koyanagi explains, "This particular earthquake was centered about 50 kilometers, that's about 30 miles, below the earth's surface and whenever an earthquake has any kind of depth at all it tends to minimize the amount of damage."

But that's little comfort to those whose sense of security has been shaken again. "There's no place safe in the world," Sanders feels. "If you're looking for safety, wrong world."

Little comfort to a region rattled by at least half-a-dozen magnitude 7 quakes in just the last 10 years.