'They were scared': Family of Whitehorse man shaken by Mexican earthquake

Fabian Glyka of Whitehorse was sitting at his desk at work, Tuesday, when he heard the news of another earthquake at home.

Fabian Glyka's extended family lives in Mexico City, where a deadly earthquake struck Tuesday

Fabian Glyka's extended family lives south of Mexico City. Glyka's cousin (far left) holds Glyka's son, Mateo. (Submitted by Fabian Glyka)

Fabian Glyka was at sitting at his desk at work in Whitehorse, Tuesday, when he heard the news.

An earthquake — the second in just two weeks — had struck his home in the heart of Mexico.

But this time was worse: a devastating magnitude 7.1, with an epicentre just 120 kilometres from Mexico City.

"I immediately got worried about my family," recalled Glyka, who says half of his family still lives in the city, while his mother and siblings live 300 kilometres to the north.

"Thankfully, there it wasn't felt all that much," said Glyka. "But my cousins, aunts, uncles, they live in Mexico City."

Fabian Glyka's wife (centre, in white) and Glyka (centre, behind the bride) pose with family at their wedding in Guanajuato, Mexico. Most of his family members who reside in Mexico City are pictured here.

He said his family immediately turned to a group chat on a popular messaging app called What's App.

"They were able to check in with each other fairly quickly, saying they were OK," said Glyka.

"It was just two of them that they couldn't get a hold of."

After three gruelling hours, the family was able to reach Glyka's cousin and nephew who lost cell service due to collapsed cell towers.

"Fortunately, they're all well," said Glyka. "I mean obviously they were scared."

By Thursday, 273 people were confirmed dead in central Mexico, and more than 2,000 injured. Thousands of professionals and volunteers are looking for survivors among the collapsed buildings and rubble.

Earlier this month, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the country's southern coast, killing almost 100 people.

Remembering the 1985 quake

The "crazy part," says Glyka, is this week's earthquake happened on the 32nd anniversary of the massive quake that shook Mexico in 1985 — one that claimed thousands of lives and devastated the country.

"I was just five years old when that happened. But I can remember that because every year, we remember that day because so many people died," said Glyka.

"There were stories after stories after stories that came out of that earthquake, of how people helped."

Just like in '85, Glyka is hearing now about how the Mexican people are reaching out to one another during this difficult time.

"The Mexicans learned from that, so when this happened again, and they now know how to react. The help is always overwhelming."

Carrying on with their lives

Glyka says his family in Mexico isn't working right now, putting their lives on hold while the safety of many of the buildings is being assessed.

"It's just, I guess, the hangover ... of the shock of what happened. And [they're] realizing now they have to just move on and carry on with their lives."

Glyka says he hopes people will not forget the nearby states around Mexico City, including Puebla, Morelos, and Guerrero: "They also have needs," he said.

He says if northerners want to help with the recovery, the Red Cross is a good way to contribute.

With files from Mark Evans, Roch Shannon Fraser

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.