Israeli group prepares to send aid to earthquake-struck Mexico

High-tech gear on standby as iAID readies to fly to Central America after massive tremor kills at least three

People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake on September 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDO)
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake on September 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDO)

A nongovernmental Israeli aid agency prepared on Friday to fly to Mexico with high-tech gear for searching for people trapped under rubble following the massive earthquake that struck the region.

Shachar Zahavi, head of iAID, the umbrella body of Israeli aid groups that is organizing the delegation, said that a 12-member team has been preparing its gear and are ready fly out to the affected area in southern Mexico.

The quake hit offshore in the Pacific about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of the town of Tres Picos in far southern Chiapas state, the USGS said. It sparked a tsunami warning along the coast of Central America.

At least three people were killed in the southern state of Chiapas in the powerful earthquake that rocked southern Mexico overnight Thursday, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said. There were reports of widespread damage and destruction.

The interior ministry said the quake had a magnitude of 8.4, while the US Geological Survey put it at a revised 8.1, up from 8.0 initially.

People react on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake, on September 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/ALFREDO ESTRELLA)

Shortly after the quake struck, Israel’s Foreign Ministry managed to reach all Israeli diplomats in the country and issued a statement confirming that none were injured in the quake.

“All Israeli emissaries in Mexico are well,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Foreign Ministry remains in contact with the embassy and will receive updates.”

A tsunami warning has been issued for vast stretches of Central and North American coastline.

“Based on all available date … widespread hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

“Tsunami waves reaching more than three meters above the tide level are possible along the coasts of Mexico,” it said, with lower waves in other countries.

The tsunami warning was for the coasts of Mexico, down through Central America into Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras, and as far south as Ecuador.

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