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Rescue and assistance work during the earthquake in Mexico City

Category: International Firefighting Team of the Year

Fire department: Heroico Cuerpo de Bomberos de la Ciudad de México (México)

Operation: Earthquake in Mexico

Mexico is located in one of the areas with the highest seismic incidence on the planet, due to the interaction of five tectonic plates that converge in its territory. Derived from this, the National Seismological Service (SSN) is registering an average of 40 earthquakes per day. The population that converges in Mexico City is approximately 20 million inhabitants, making it the fourth most populated city in the world, according to UN reports. 

The combination of these factors makes each seismic movements above 6 degrees on the Richter scale potentially dangerous. On 19 September 2017 a devastating earthquake occurred, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, whose destructive potential was magnified because to the proximity of its epicentre with the capital (only 120 kilometres away).

The balances were particularly serious. At least 167 people died in Mexico City because of the 23 buildings collapsed in the central area, which involved a coordinated effort by various groups and rescue squads to recover the bodies of the deceased, as well as the rescue of the survivors trapped in the rubble of the collapsed structures. One of the corporations that invested the most human resources in the rescue tasks was the Heroic Fire Department of Mexico City. 

Officially, 319 firefighters from Mexico City gathered in the search and rescue of 166 injured people and 87 people who died on the day of the emergency, as well as throughout the days following the earthquake on September 19, 2017. 65 calls for help were attended on September 19 and 108 additional services were offered during the following days, related to the collapse of various structures throughout the city, from blocks of flats to buildings housing public offices and businesses. 

While the records of the Heroic Fire Brigade mention 319 fire fighters dispatched to attend the emergencies reported officially, it must be said that, unofficially, over one thousand fire fighters worked together in the tasks of rescue, first aid, recovery of bodies, co-ordination of volunteers' work, as well as the removal of rubble. This scenario involved a coordinated effort of several rescue teams and corporations to recover the bodies of those who died, and to rescue the survivors trapped among the rubble of the collapsed buildings.

This report is in order to acknowledge the work that the men and women belonging to this honorable corporation undertook to serve and protect the citizens of Mexico City.