NEW YORK – A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico Tuesday, Sept. 19, and sent dozens of buildings crumbling into massive piles of rubble. The Philippine Embassy was badly damaged according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. As of Sept. 20, it was reported in the media that at least 225 people were killed, injured at least 1,000 and caused chaos in Mexico City.
The DFA said that despite the damage the Embassy sustained, Filipino diplomats were able to check the condition of the 60-member Filipino community in Mexico City to make sure all are safe and accounted for. So far, the DFA said the Embassy has not received reports of any Filipino casualty.
“The people of Mexico are again in our thoughts and prayers today,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement from New York where he is attending the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“We offer our sympathies to the Mexican Government and to those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy,” Secretary Cayetano added.
The Secretary also said he is thankful that Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo de Vega and the other members of the embassy staff were able to make their way out of the chancery unhurt.
“We are all a bit shaken but otherwise all of us from the Embassy are all right,” Ambassador de Vega said in a text message to Secretary Cayetano.
This afternoon, Sept. 20, before Cayetano’s press briefing at the Philippine Center in New York, Consul General Theresa Dizon-de Vega, confirmed that her husband, Ambassador de Vega, was safe as well as all embassy staff.
The ambassador said he and most of the 11-member staff rushed out of the embassy when debris started falling down the walls and ceiling shortly after the earthquake struck.
The embassy occupies the first two floors of an eight-story office building in the Cuauhtemoc neighborhood near the city center.
It was the second earthquake de Vega experienced within a two-week period. The top envoy was attending an official function in Oaxaca province on Sept. 7 when a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the region and killed at least 54 people.
PHOTO CAPTION: Volunteers help in clearing debris and searching buildings that collapsed in plumes of dust after an earthquake, in a neighborhood of Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Thousands fled into the streets in panic. | Photo credit: Voice of the People