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Mexico City’s Architects of Destruction

On the first anniversary of the Mexico City earthquake, an investigation explores how engineers, builders, and politicians failed to follow building codes—with deadly results.
Soldiers outside a collapsed building in Mexico City on September 20, 2017.
Soldiers outside a collapsed building in Mexico City on September 20, 2017.Ginnette Riquelme/Reuters

On September 19, 2017, a 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico City, killing 369 people in the area and damaging hundreds of buildings.

The timing of quake was uncanny: 32 years earlier, to the day, an 8.0 quake killed thousands and left entire neighborhoods unrecognizable; 5,000 bodies were recovered from the rubble in Mexico City, but the total death toll was probably twice that.