JUCHITAN: Government cargo planes fl ew in supplies and troops began distributing boxes of food to jittery survivors of an earthquake that destroyed a large part of Juchitan and killed at least 37 people here, even as officials on Sunday raised the nationwide death toll to 90.Some people continued to sleep outside, fearful of more collapses, as strong aftershocks continued to rattle the town, including a magnitude 5.2 jolt early on Sunday.

Some prompted rescue workers to pause in their labour.

Local officials said they had counted nearly 800 aftershocks of all sizes since late Thursday’s big quake, and the US Geological Survey counted nearly 60 with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.

Teams of soldiers and federal police armed with shovels and sledgehammers fanned out across neighborhoods in Juchitan to help demolish damaged buildings.

Dump trucks choked some narrow streets as they began hauling away the many tons of rubble.The 8.1 magnitude earthquake claimed 65 lives in Mexico, but nowhere more than Juchitan. There were so many deaths that slow-moving funeral processions caused temporary gridlock at intersections as they converged on the city’s cemeteries.

Scenes of mourning were repeated over and over again in Juchitan, where a third of the city’s homes collapsed or were uninhabitable, President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Friday. Part of the city hall collapsed.

On the outskirts of the city, the general hospital settled into its temporary home a school gymnasium with gurneys parked atop the basketball court. The earthquake rendered the hospital itself uninhabitable, so the gym contained a mix of patients that pre-dated the quake and those who suffered injuries as a result of it.

Governor Alejandro Murat said on Sunday that the death toll in his state had risen to 71. Officials have reported 19 killed in neighbouring states. Two others died in a mudslide in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz after Hurricane Katia hit late on Friday.

Pena Nieto said authorities were working to re-establish supplies of water and food and provide medical attention to those who need it. He vowed the government would help rebuild.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2017

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