SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Nearly 60 people have died after an earthquake on the southern coast of Mexico. And the Mexican government believes that number will climb as crews dig through the rubble.
"Have you ever been where you're like a train comes by and you can feel it move, and you can feel the ground shaking,” said Chelsea Glass, who was in Antigua, Guatemala, when the quake hit. “I almost felt like I was on a water bed because everything was moving.”
The deadly magnitude-8.1 quake reduced homes along Mexico’s southern coast to rubble, but the shaking could be felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City. It struck just before midnight as Glass was about to go to bed.
"It went on for a minute and a half, which is a really long time,” she told CBS13. "As it went on for longer and longer, I grew concerned.”
Antigua is 336 miles away from the epicenter of the quake in Chiapas, Mexico. To make things worse, people in Mexico also faced the threat of a tsunami after the quake.
Originally from Sacramento, Glass now runs a travel company in Central America and lives there part-time.
"The whole town was shook up more than usual for just a regular earthquake,” she said. “Luckily, I live in a city down here that has weathered a lot of earthquakes so, at this point, the buildings are pretty up to code.”
But Glass was worried and emailed her friend Maria Harrington in Sacramento, who runs a local language school called Casa de Español. Back in 2011, she started a non-profit called "Help Chiapas" in the same state where 10 people died in Thursday's quake.
"What we do is we take down dentists, we take down optometrists, and then we do a lot of educational things with the kids,” Harrington explained.
She fell in love with the indigenous culture in Chiapas while working on her masters in the area.
"We sent a text immediately to find out how they were,” Harrington said.
Most responded with good news, but one woman said her home was destroyed by the quake.
"It's devastating for these people because it's taken them so long to just be able to have a home,” Harrington said.
And even with thousands of miles between them, Harrington and Glass say their priority is helping those in need.
“Luckily everybody that I know in Guatemala are fine, but that definitely and unfortunately hasn’t been the case for everybody,” Glass said.
Harrington says the challenge now is finding out what the people in such a rural area need.
Casa de Español is collecting donations and raising money to send to Chiapas. If you’d like to donate, you can go to helpchiapas.org.