Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 09/25/2017.
Nearly 9 million people reside in and around Mexico City, one of Latin America’s cultural and economic hubs. The area and its residents now face the Herculean task of digging out and rebuilding in the wake of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 19, 2017, which left buildings, infrastructure and lives in ruin.
The event’s seismic epicenter was in Puebla Raboso, 76 miles south of Mexico City. The quake shook the earth throughout the region for 20 seconds while roads and buildings crumbled, including dozens of historic churches. So far, authorities have recorded 320 deaths and 4,683 injuries as a result of the earthquake.
And the earth may still be shifting: A magnitude 6.1 earthquake south of the capital in Oaxaca on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, has claimed 5 lives so far; 7 more people were injured.
Eerie déjà vu
This was the third major earthquake in as many weeks to strike Mexico. It happened on the 32nd anniversary of what is considered Mexico City’s deadliest earthquake to date. Roughly 10,000 people died and 30,000 buildings came down as a result of that magnitude 8.1 Michoacán Earthquake in 1985.
Mexico sits on the western edge of the North American plate, which is being underthrust by the eastward moving oceanic Cocos plate, according to risk modeling company AIR Worldwide, a division of Verisk Analytics. AIR determined that most residential buildings in Mexico are of masonry construction, and they fall into one of three classifications: reinforced masonry, confined masonry and unreinforced masonry. "Unreinforced masonry is the construction type most vulnerable to shake damage," AIR said in a statement about the impact of this most recent Mexico City earthquake.
Significant rebuilding ahead
It's too early yet to know exactly the cost of rebuilding Mexico City and the surrounding communities impacted by the Sept. 19 earthquake. But consider that a comparable event in Ecuador in 2016 — a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that killed 272 people and injured 2,500 more — spurred overall losses of $2 billion and insured losses of $560 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Here are a dozen images that portray the depth of Mexico's wounds as well as the great recovery work ahead.
A man walks his bike past a building felled by a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. Buildings collapsed in Morelos state, including the town hall and local church in Jojutla near the quake's epicenter. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
The doorway of a house collapsed by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake stands in San Gregorio Atlapulco, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Authorities say 121 of the village's houses were severely damaged by the Tuesday quake and inhabitants are without water and electricity. The bell tower of the local church was toppled by the force of the quake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
A Catholic church's bell tower is missing after the 7.1-magnitude earthquake in San Gregorio Atlapulco, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Mexican officials are promising to keep up the search for survivors as rescue operations stretch into a fourth day following Tuesday's major earthquake that devastated Mexico City and nearby states. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
In this Sept. 20, 2017 photo, workers rescue a religious statue from the heavily damaged former convent of San Juan Bautista, in Tlayacapan, Morelos state, Mexico. People by the millions rushed from homes and offices across central Mexico, after a 7.1 earthquake, sometimes watching as buildings they had just fled fell behind them with an eruption of dust and debris. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Rescue personnel work on a collapsed building, far right, as vehicle traffic crawls on the Viaducto highway, a day after a devastating 7.1 earthquake, in the Del Valle neighborhood of Mexico City, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2107. Efforts continue at the scenes of dozens of collapsed buildings, where firefighters, police, soldiers and civilians continue their search to reach the living. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
A handler and his rescue dog look for victims at the site of a quake-collapsed seven-story building in Mexico City's Roma Norte neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Mexican officials are promising to keep up the search for survivors as rescue operations stretch into a fourth day following Tuesday's major earthquake that devastated Mexico City and nearby states. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Israeli rescue workers help with search and rescue efforts at the site of a felled office building brought down by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake, in the Roma Norte neighborhood, in Mexico City, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. As rescue operations stretched into Day 5, residents throughout the capital have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
A young volunteer raises his fist as a sign to keep silent as dogs search through the rubble of a 7.1 quake-collapsed four-story clothing factory, in Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Rescue operations stretched into a fourth day Friday, spurring hope among desperate relatives gathered at the sites of buildings collapsed by Tuesday's powerful earthquake. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
Rescuers race to save people believed to be still alive inside a collapsed office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City, as night falls Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, three days after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Hope mixed with fear Friday in Mexico City, where families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of their loved ones trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Architect Victor Marquez stands in a stairwell during the appraisal of an earthquake-damaged building, in Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. It is up to experts like Marquez, who considers himself a building doctor, to bring peace of mind to fearful apartment dwellers living in the aftermath of a powerful Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Architect Victor Marquez checks a cracked wall that was not caused by the recent earthquake during his survey of a seven-floor apartment building, in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. It is up to experts like Marquez to bring peace of mind, or recommend aggressive treatment, to fearful apartment dwellers in the aftermath of Mexico's 7.1 magnitude quake that struck on Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)