MEXICO CITY — Under a patchwork shelter of overlapping tarpaulins and repurposed vinyl advertisements, several dozen residents of 18 Independence Street pack cheek by jowl into donated tents in the street near their building, which was damaged in the Sept. 19 earthquake.

Six months after the temblor, improvised camps like this one erected by displaced residents are among the most visible signs that not everyone has moved on from the earthquake that killed 228 people in Mexico City and 141 more elsewhere.

Edgar Oswaldo Tungui Rodriguez, the Mexico city reconstruction commissioner, said there are 27 such camps around the capital but denied that people were living in any of them. Rather, he said, quake victims had just posted guards to watch over their property.


The camps showed a different reality. Maria Patricia Rodriguez Gonzalez has been living under tarpaulinsnear the Independence Street building with her 13-year-old son and 27-year old daughter for the past six months.

The residents are still allowed to enter the building, but nobody risks staying there.

The bedroom floor in Rodriguez’s apartment has sunk since the earthquake. The ceiling sags and plaster has fallen from the walls. Afraid to use the bathroom there, she heats water on a gas burner under the tarps.

Most everyone has a cough and especially the children are often battling colds, said resident Emma Alvarez Lopez, who helps look after children. Her own granddaughter eventually had to leave the camp after contracting pneumonia.