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Amid tragedy, Mexican industry escapes earthquake damage

There were close to 100 deaths as a result of a Sept. 8 earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific coast; however, the rest of the country is fine, Raúl Urteaga general coordinator for international affairs for SAGARPA, said Sept. 10.

The epicenter was 102 miles west of Tapachula in southern Chiapas, at a depth of about 21 miles. International news reports indicated that the quake was so powerful it sent people fleeing from buildings 650 miles away in Mexico City.

Produce industry members confirmed their trade’s good fortune, despite the human tragedy.celvia2Roads with huge boulders and traffic backed up leaving Tapachula. Photo courtesy of Phillip Cuccerre of Le Best.

“All the farms report there's no damage other than just some debris in the road which they believe the government would clear soon. No personnel hurt,” Phillip Cuccerre, the Houston-based sales manager of Le Best Banana Supply Co., Inc., said of the company’s banana plantation in Tapachula.

Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros. LLC, in Rio Rico, AZ, said early Sept. 8, “All our people are fine in Chiapas. Nothing happened to the packinghouse!”

Cuccerre said he didn't know the condition of other growers’ farms or personnel.

Lance Peterson, who owns Super Starr International, which grows papayas north of Chiapas in Tecomán, Colima, said, “The earthquake was in Chiapas along the border with Guatemala.”

As Mexico dealt with the earthquake, growers on Mexico’s east coast were facing Hurricane Katia, which was coincident with Hurricane Irma’s assault on Florida.

Karina Reyes, the communications coordinator of AMHPAC, surveyed AMHPAC’s membership in areas affected by Hurricane Katia and the 8.1-magnitude earthquake.

She said growers in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Tabasco, Michoacan, Puebla, Mexico State, Guerrero and Hidalgo only had heavy rains. Some growers felt the earthquake “but it did not damage structures of their facilities or their plantations.”

Urteaga said, “Katia has brought heavy rains to Veracruz but no major damages. At the same time we are following news regarding Irma's landfall in Florida today (Sept. 10) and we pray for the minimum damage and the sparing of lives.”

Veracruz is a major producer of tropical fruit and many other produce items.