On September 19, 1985, a powerful earthquake rocked Mexico City and the western Mexico states of Michoacán, Colima and Jalisco, leaving more than 10,000 people dead, another 30,000 others injured and as many as a quarter of a million people homeless.
More to Explore
On January 17, 1994, an earthquake rocked Los Angeles, California, killing 54 people and causing billions of dollars in damages.
On October 17, 1989, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 67 people and causing more than $5 billion in damages.
On April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake shook San Francisco in the early morning hours, leaving the city in shambles.
A country rich in history, tradition and culture, Mexico is made up of 31 states and one federal district.
Did You Know?
Mexico City is located at an elevation of more than 7,300 feet above sea level. By comparison, Denver, Colorado, nicknamed the Mile High City, is 5,280 feet above sea level.
Mexico City Earthquake: September 19, 1985
At around 7:19 a.m. on September 19, 1985, Mexico City, one of the world’s largest urban areas, was jolted by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake, one of the strongest to ever hit the area. The quake was centered off the Pacific coast of Michoacán, more than 200 miles west of Mexico City, the nation’s capital. However, much of the damage was in Mexico City, which was constructed on an ancient lake bed whose soft sediments amplify seismic waves.
More than 10,000 people died as a result of the quake, some 30,000 others were injured and an estimated 250,000 people were left homeless. More than 400 buildings collapsed and thousands more were damaged. (The disaster exposed the fact that government corruption had allowed for lax enforcement of building codes.) Making matters worse, on the evening of September 20, a magnitude 7.5 aftershock shook the region.
1985 Mexico City Earthquake: Slow Government Response
Mexico’s president, Miguel de la Madrid (1934-2012), was criticized for his government’s weak response to the disaster. At first, the president rejected offers of international aid and played down the damage caused by the quake. In response, citizens organized their own rescue brigades.
In the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake, an early-alert earthquake warning system was established in Mexico City and other safety measures were enacted.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!
This Day in History
Lawrence of Arabia dies, 1935
T.E. Lawrence, known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, dies as a retired Royal Air Force mechanic living under an assumed name. The legendary war hero,…
Own the official Larry Bobblehead and GIT-R-DONE!
Keep up with the latest History shows, online features, special offers and more.Sign up