After earthquake rocks Mexico kiling 96, nation withdraws its offer to aid Hurricane Harvey victims

The 8.2 magnitude quake was the worst the nation had seen in a century

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After earthquake rocks Mexico kiling 96, nation withdraws its offer to aid Hurricane Harvey victims
Residents walk next to a house destroyed by the earthquake that struck the southern coast of Mexico late on Thursday, in Ixtaltepec, Mexico


A powerful earthquake that struck Mexico last week has left some 2.5 million people in need of aid and killed 96 others, authorities said on Monday, as officials rushed to get food and water to afflicted communities in the poor south.

Oaxaca state governor Alejandro Murat told local television the death toll in his state had risen to 76. He said preliminary reports showed that at least 12,000 homes were damaged, and warned the number was likely to rise.

Murat said 1 million people in Oaxaca needed food, water, electricity and help rebuilding damaged homes, while in neighboring Chiapas state, which was closest to the epicenter of the tremor, 1.5 million people were affected, according to officials.

"We are united in facing this humanitarian crisis," Murat said.

The 8.1-magnitude quake off the coast of Chiapas rattled Mexico City and sowed destruction across the narrowest portion of Mexico on the isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Sixteen people have been reported dead in Chiapas state and four in neighboring Tabasco. Many of the fatalities in Oaxaca were in the town of Juchitan, where more than 5,000 homes were destroyed.

The quake, the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in over eight decades, was stronger than a 1985 temblor that killed thousands in Mexico City. However, its greater depth and distance kept the capital from being more serious damaged.

President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday declared three days of national mourning and pledged to rebuild shattered towns and villages.

Meanwhile, Mexico has withdrawn its offer to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas due to demands on its emergency services from a massive earthquake that struck late last week, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Mexico's government offered to send food, beds, generators, mobile kitchens as well as doctors after torrential rains from Harvey flooded vast parts of Houston.

But the earthquake that struck southern Mexico on Thursday killed at least 96 people and left some 2.5 million people in need of aid. Hurricane Katia also hit the Gulf state of Veracruz this weekend and heavy rains have stretched emergency services.

"Given these circumstance, the Mexican government will channel all available logistical support to serve the families and communities affected in the national territory," the foreign ministry statement said.

U.S.-Mexican relations have been strained by U.S. President Donald Trump's threats to curtail trade with Latin America's No. 2 economy as well as his demand that Mexico pay for a border wall to keep out immigrants and drug traffickers.

The ministry noted that the U.S. embassy had taken nine days to respond to Mexico's formal offer of aid on Aug. 28, and said that "only certain logistical aid" was accepted.

The U.S. embassy in Mexico did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While government aid never arrived, Mexico's volunteer Red Cross rushed food and supplies to storm refugees.

Mexican media highlighted that Trump had not spoken about the quake, which drew pledges of support from the pope and other world leaders, nor publicly acknowledged Mexico's aid offer.

The foreign ministry thanked Texas Governor Greg Abbott for sending messages of solidarity following the earthquake.

Separately, the ministry said Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray will travel to the United States this week to meet with local leaders and beneficiaries of a U.S. program protecting from deportation immigrants brought illegally into the United States as children.

Last week, Trump said he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but delayed implementation until March to give Congress a chance to draft an alternative.

More than three-fourths of the 800,000 immigrants enrolled in the DACA program are from Mexico.

Videgaray will travel to Sacramento and Los Angeles on Sept. 11-12 and then to Washington on Sept. 13, the ministry said, adding that he will meet with California Governor Jerry Brown and other officials.

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