Calgarians witness 'disaster' in Mexico City following 7.1 earthquake

A number of Calgarians weathered the 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City now estimated to have killed more than 200 people.

Sarah Rieger was on vacation in Mexico City while Amy MacCulloch has been living there since July

Calgarians Sarah and Brett Rieger were vacationing in Mexico City this week when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, killing more than 200. (Submitted/Sarah Rieger)

A number of Calgarians weathered the 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City now estimated to have killed more than 200 people, and what they describe in the aftermath is a "disaster."

Sarah Rieger and husband Brett had been on vacation, staying at an Airbnb in a central neighbourhood of Mexico City, when the quake struck on Tuesday.

After the shaking stopped, the couple gathered their belongings and spent a sleepless night at the airport waiting to get back home. 

"We saw an apartment building we had walked by the night before, I think it was two blocks from where we were staying. It had just fully collapsed," she said.

"It was just hard to think that some of the people we'd met or had got a coffee from or something earlier that week could be facing such devastation in their lives."

The earthquake toppled dozens of buildings, broke gas mains and sparked fires across the city and other towns in central Mexico. Falling rubble and billboards crushed cars.

After several hours of delays Wednesday morning, the couple was able to board a flight back to Calgary. They were expected to arrive in the afternoon.

Living in Mexico City 

Amy Macculloch stood trembling in her bedroom through the earthquake, hearing a voice in her head that told her to stay put. She was just a few kilometres from where Rieger was, in the neighbourhood of La Condesa. 

Macculloch is a Calgarian who has been living in Mexico City since July to teach English. She, too, describes seeing devastating destruction when she emerged from her apartment. 

Amy Macculloch describes devastating destruction in the La Condesa neighbourhood of Mexico City following the earthquake, but also the rush of the Mexican people to help one another. (Submitted by Amy Macculloch)

An apartment building around the corner from where she was staying was flattened, she said. 

"There was debris falling and smashing to the ground," Macculloch said. 

"It's a disaster. Of course there's tons of people who are out of work or out of homes, or don't have a place to stay." 

Through it all, Macculloch said, she was astounded with how quickly the Mexicans moved to start helping one another.

"This disaster has exemplified just how welcoming and thoughtful the Mexican people are." 

Macculloch decided to remain in Mexico City but is staying with friends in an area of the city where less damaged was sustained. 

At least 225 killed

The earthquake killed at least 225 people and damaged dozens of buildings in and around the country's capital. Around 30 children and 12 adults remain missing after a school collapsed.

There are 3,320 Canadians registered in Mexico; however, Global Affairs Canada says registration is voluntary and that figure "may not reflect the actual number."

Canadians requiring consular assistance should contact Global Affairs toll-free at 1-613-996-8885 or by email at

The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 that hit Sept. 7 off Mexico's southern coast. That one was also was felt strongly in the capital.

With files from Kate Adach, The Calgary Eyeopener