JUCHITAN, Mexico — Life for many has moved outdoors in the quake-shocked city of Juchitan, where a third of the homes are reported uninhabitable and repeated aftershocks have scared people away from many structures still standing.

The city on Sunday was littered with rubble from Thursday night’s magnitude 8.1 earthquake, which killed at least 90 people across southern Mexico – at least three dozen of them in Juchitan itself.

Officials in Oaxaca and Chiapas states said thousands of houses and hundreds of schools had been damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people were reported to be without water service.

Many people continued to sleep outside, fearful of more collapses, as strong aftershocks continued to rattle the city, including a magnitude 5.2 jolt early Sunday.

Some Juchitecos seeking solace trekked through the destruction to find an open-air Mass on Sunday, after many of the churches were either damaged or left vacant until they could be checked.

Along a street lined with obliterated homes, the Rev. Ranulfo Pacheco delivered a homily to a couple of dozen people on wooden pews that had been toted into the patio in front of his gray concrete Our Lord of Esquipulas church. He said many were fearful of celebrating inside the structure, which from the street seemed undamaged.


“One enters with fear, with a foot ready to run in case there’s a sign that other shake is coming – and it continues moving,” he said.

Local officials said they had counted nearly 800 aftershocks of all sizes since the big quake, and the U.S. Geological Survey counted nearly 60 with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.

Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat said Sunday that the death toll in his state had risen to 71, while officials have reported 19 killed in Chiapas and Tabasco states.

Juchitan’s downtown streets grew increasingly congested Sunday with dump trucks and heavy equipment to haul away debris. Smaller piles of debris were pushed into larger mountains of rubble reminiscent of the cleanup after a blizzard.

Teams of soldiers and federal police armed with shovels and sledgehammers fanned out across neighborhoods to help demolish damaged buildings. Other groups distributed boxes of food.

But help was slower to arrive in Union Hidalgo, a town of about 20,000 people about 30 minutes to the east.

Collapsed homes pocked neighborhoods there, and the town lacked electricity, water and cellphone service.

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