Mexico City — Mexico's second major earthquake in two weeks claimed several hundred lives — including at least three dozen schoolchildren — but appeared to have spared the country's manufacturing infrastructure.
Striking central Mexico at lunchtime Sept. 19, the 7.1 magnitude quake left a trail of devastation in towns and villages from Puebla, which lies to the southeast of Mexico City, and into several neighborhoods in the Mexican capital itself.
Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity for 12 hours or more and hospitals, schools, offices and factories were evacuated.
Telephones rang unanswered in the offices of Mexico's plastics industry association ANIPAC and auto manufacturers association AMIA, both located in Mexico City.
Residential areas bore the brunt of the destruction. Some high-rise buildings in Mexico City collapsed, as they did in Cuernavaca to the south and Puebla to the southeast. Several dozen primary and secondary schoolchildren were crushed when their school collapsed on top of them in the nation's capital.
But companies within the country's plastics industry contacted by Plastics News reported little or no damage. Sergio Beutelspacher, a prominent Mexican inventor of extrusion machinery, said a power cut forced the cancellation of one and a half shifts at his company, Beutelspacher S.A. de C.V. in southern Mexico City. The company employs 100.
In the north of the capital, José Federico Vera Palafox, the founder of injection molder Grupo Industrial Vera S.A. de C.V., said there was panic among some of the 200 employees who were on the company's premises but nothing more serious.
"We had 34 injection molding machines working at the time. There was no interruption in production and we had no power cuts." GIVSA employs about 500.
Vera said his company, which had already donated funds to the families of those killed in the 8.1 magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico earlier this month, would repeat the exercise for the country's latest quake victims.
In Morelos, and its capital of Cuernavaca and the surrounding areas, 73 people lost their lives, according to state government officials Sept. 21. Morelos is Mexico's second smallest state and is renowned as a center for technological and scientific research.
Mauricio Yañez Lino, director of Polymer Solutions and Innovations S.A. de C.V., the exclusive distributor in Mexico for the United Kingdom's Symphony Environmental Technologies plc and Brazilian masterbatch maker Cromex SA, said damage to the company's installations was minimal.
An employee at major automotive industry supplier GD Components de México S.A. de C.V., which molds headlamp housings at its manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Cuernavaca, reported no damage.
Most of Mexico's auto plants are either in northern Mexico or in northwest central Mexico where the earthquake was not deeply felt. However some plants were affected.
Nissan Motor Co., the largest automaker in Mexico, said there were no deaths or injuries at its Mexico City headquarters or its assembly plant in Cuernavaca.
Workers were sent home from those operations following the earthquake, the company said in a statement.
"We will assess those facilities for damage before determining when they can return to safe operation. We expect to have more to share in the coming days," it said.
VW's sprawling plant in Puebla halted production after the quake so that the plant could be inspected, but only minor damage was found, the company said. The plant was restarted for the late shift Sept. 19, and administrative personnel returned Sept. 20.
Audi's crossover plant down the highway in San José Chiapa, sustained no damage and workers were unhurt, but the second shift was ended early on Sept. 19 and the third shift was canceled so employees could check on loved ones, the company said in a statement.
Automotive News contributed to this story.