MANILA (DWDD) – The Philippines today conveyed its sympathies to Mexico and other countries affected by the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that struck off the coast of southern Mexico on Thursday and left at least 15 persons dead.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mexico and the other countries affected by the magnitude 8.2 earthquake,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
The Secretary said that there are no reports of Filipino casualties and that Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo De Vega, who was attending an official function in Oaxaca near the epicenter of the earthquake, is safe and unhurt.
The Secretary said the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico are closely monitoring the situation, including the developing tsunami alert in the region.
He said the Embassy is in touch with the Honorary Consuls and Filipino community leaders in the affected areas to make sure that the 630 Filipinos in Mexico and the 300 others in nearby Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador are all safe and accounted for.
The earthquake, which struck 165 kilometers west of Chiapas near Oaxaca before midnight Thursday, has been described as the strongest to hit the country in a century. Reports said the temblor was so strong that it shook buildings and sent residents to the streets in the capital, more than 1,000 kilometers away.
“The Philippine Embassy in Mexico has reported that it has not received any report of any Filipino casualties,” Secretary Cayetano said. “We are also thankful that Ambassador De Vega was unhurt despite the close call he had in Oaxaca.”
Secretary Cayetano said Ambassador De Vega was in Oaxaca with Trade Attaché Vichael Angelo Roaring to attend an economic forum hosted by the Mexican Chamber of Commerce (COMCE) and to witness the presentation by Mexican President Enrique Peña Neto of an award to a Mexican company owned by the Ayala Group.
Secretary Cayetano said Ambassador De Vega had just attended a welcome dinner hosted by the governor of Oaxaca and had just arrived at the lobby of the hotel he was staying in when the earthquake struck.
“The earth started shaking stongly but we did not think much of it at first, but then, something close to a minute had passed and instead of stopping or weakening, the shaking got even stronger and we realized that we may be in grave danger,” Ambassador De Vega said in a text message to the Secretary.
“So despite the rain, we stepped out of the lobby and it was a good thing as items started falling down from the ceiling just after we stepped to the driveway,” the Filipino envoy said.
According to Ambassador De Vega one of the chandeliers in the hotel came crashing down just seconds after.
Authorities in the four countries are still assessing the damage from the earthquake, which also triggered tsunami warnings along the Pacific coastline.
“We stand ready to provide the necessary assistance to overseas Filipinos affected by the earthquake,” Secretary Cayetano said. DFA/MCAG