JUCHITÁN DE ZARAGOZA, Mexico (NYTIMES) - The death toll from Mexico's strongest earthquake in living memory rose to 90 on Sunday (Sept 10), as the people of the devastated city of Juchitán de Zaragoza mourned their dead and rescue workers began to tally the damage in surrounding villages.
The state of Oaxaca was hit the hardest, with 71 dead, said Agueda Robles, a spokeswoman for the state civil protection agency.
Another 15 were reported to have died in Chiapas, the state to Oaxaca's southeast, with four fatalities in neighboring Tabasco state.
More than two days after the quake struck late Thursday, violent aftershocks continued to jolt Juchitán. People spent their second night outside, on crumpled sidewalks or in backyard patios, or clustering in basketball courts and parking lots.
The federal government declared three days of mourning, and Gov. Alejandro Murat of Oaxaca said Mexico's Independence Day celebrations at the end of the week would be suspended in the state.
Among the dead was Juan Jiménez, a municipal policeman, who was buried when half of Juchitán's city hall collapsed. The city had seemed to hold its collective breath as rescue workers combed through the debris throughout Friday, only to pull his body out on Saturday.
Dozens of relatives and friends filled the patio of his house to pay their respects to his wife Irma and the couple's three children.
"God needed him," said Wilhelm, 12, the youngest of the three, shaking dust from the navy-blue blanket that covered his father's coffin. "I think that my grandfather also wanted him near," he said.
"That's why he died."