Exactly 32 years after a devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands struck Mexico City, another disastrous quake hit. On Tuesday, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook central Mexico, causing widespread damage in Greater Mexico City and the states of Morelos and Puebla. Only hours after earthquake drills were held in Mexico City on the anniversary of the quake 32 years ago, buildings crumbled, sending citizens into a state of panic.
With the death toll over 200, rescuers and residents spent the night combing through debris in search of survivors. Many photojournalists were documenting the drills and taking photographs as the earthquake struck. In moments of crisis such as this, it’s often photographs that speak to people the most.
“Reading the news can make us aware of the scale, damage and cost of a natural disaster…but seeing the imagery of the destruction is what makes us feel the gravity, scale and human costs of this disaster” says Pancho Bernasconi, vice president of news at Getty Images. “Our images place you right beside the first responders, and you become an eyewitness, helping you better comprehend the chaos and wreckage the affected community is facing.”
As photographs of the event began to surface, so did relief efforts, with organizations such as Global Giving and Unicef opening up donations for immediate and long-term earthquake relief. Bernasconi believes that photographs have the power to allow us to humanize situations that we are not often faced with. He explains, “Because of the photographers on the ground, often in dangerous situations, we are presented with an opportunity to see the affected community come together and express the best version of their humanity.”