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close this bookDisaster Chronicles Number 3: Earthquake in Mexico, September 19 and 20, 1985 (PAHO)
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentPrologue
View the documentList of authors who presented papers for this publication
View the document1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Magnitude of the disaster
Open this folder and view contents3. Public health and preventive medicine
View the document4. International cooperation
View the document5. Perspectives
View the documentAnnex : The survival of people in collapsed buildings
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentReferences

4. International cooperation

International solidarity was demonstrated from the first hours of the disaster. Upon reestablishment of communications systems with the international community, specific aid was solicited according to priorities to attend the following needs:

1. Specialized search-and-rescue equipment to extract persons trapped in destroyed buildings. Heavy machinery such as cranes to remove rubble.

2. Equipment for second and third level hospitals, and particularly rehabilitation equipment as well as supplies for operating and recovery rooms, intensive care units, maternity wards and clinical laboratories.

3. Equipment and supplies for suturing, intravenous perfusion, x-ray films and refrigeration units.

During the first 10 days after the earthquakes, the General Comptroller's Ministry of the Federal District registered 177 international flights from 31 countries with 1,088 tons of aid, Table 24. (40) (41) These diverse donations went directly to various institutions, (Table 25). Of these, 748 tons (69%) were not solicited by national authorities and consisted of non-priority items such as medicines, food, clothes, blankets and supplies. The comparison of supplies and other items received and utilized appears in Table 26. Note the deficit that occurred with respect to some of the solicited articles such as x-ray film, anesthetics and immobilization materials.

There was ample availability of blood and derivatives thanks to voluntary donors throughout the city. UNDRO informed that as of October 1, 1985, contributions from United Nations organisms, government organizations, voluntary agencies and the International Red Cross had reached a sum of 10,750,000 dollars, and that more aid was expected.

Table 24. Mexico Earthquake, International Aid (from September 20-30, 1985)

Category of Aid

Tons

Percent

Medicines

335

31.0

Clothes and blankets

259

24.0

Food

154

14.0

Rescue equipment

150

13.6

Tools

73

6.7

Machines and vehicles

69

6.3

Medical instruments

48

4.4

TOTAL

1,088

100.0

Source: Secretaría de la Contraloría General de la Federación, 1985.

Table 25. International Aid and Receiving Institutions, Mexico, D.F., 1985

Receiving Institution

Tons

Percent

Federal Government

335

30.7

Mexican Red Cross

210

19.3

Embassies

251

23.0

Private institutions

292

27.0

TOTAL

1,088

100.0

Source: Secretaría de la Contraloría General de la Federatión, September, 1985

Table 26. International Aid Received and Used in the Emergency Phase, Mexico, D.F., 1985

Item

Received Boxes/Packets

Pieces

Used Pieces

Medicines (analgesics, sedatives, antibiotics)

5,493

28,614

27,595

Disposable syringes

1,014

67,800

10,080

Needles

710

12,950

12,600

Antiseptics

128

2,007

368 Lt.

Supplies for immobilization

159

0

6,426

Medical supplies (bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, absorbent pads, cotton, etc.)

2,428

8,923

10,332

I. V. solutions

3,808

4,650

6,778 Lt

Anesthetics

42

608

2,500

Surgical material

2,166

5,393

789

X-ray equipment (and film)

133

0

1,879

Biologicals

10

200

50,000 Dos

Blood and derivatives

231

0

1,732 Units

Non-classified medical material

20,469

26,574

0

Others (blankets, tents, food, clothes, etc.)

13,969

2,789

0

Search-and-rescue equipment, cranes and towing vehicles for removing rubble

540

6,421

0

TOTAL

51,293

166,929

-

Source: Información de la Secretaría de Salud, Departamento del Distrito Federal y Cruz Roja Mexicana.

International aid after a disaster can be invaluable when it meets a specific need. The French government provided specialized equipment and trained personnel to help in the search-and-rescue operations.