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Austin using social media, Mexican Consulate to contact family in earthquake zone

The images coming from Chiapas and Oaxaca are shocking, especially to those here in Austin who are using social media to check on friends and family in the earthquake zone. (Photo: @ iEduardooF / Twitter / MGN Online)

At this writing the death toll from the magnitude 8.1earthquake in Mexico is now 60 with at least 45 of them killed in the southern state of Oaxaca. Here at home concerned family members are scouring social media for news of loved ones.

The images coming from Chiapas and Oaxaca are shocking, especially to those here in Austin who are using social media to check on friends and family in the earthquake zone. Chris Garcia has in-laws and friends in Oaxaca. He says, “We've been getting a lot of messages as far as updates in the area. Some family members in the military have also updated us by sending us messages and videos."

News comes in fast that way, but the Mexican Consulate here in Austin can't act based on social media. Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez says, “We are an official authority so we can only operate on the basis of official information coming from official sources."

The consul general says-- even without an earthquake-- his office often gets personal requests to locate a family member in Mexico. And when disaster strikes, they appreciate the offers of assistance. But he adds, “They try to offer help in which case yet is too soon. We need to figure out what has happened."

There's no way to predict when and where an emergency will happen. That's why Juan Portillo, owner of Tramex Travel, believes in giving his customers detailed itineraries of their flights, hotels and contacts. And he adds, “We recommend if you're working leave one at the office and that you leave one with either friends or loved ones. That way if something happens and someone needs to get a hold of you they can." That will save folks here at home from having to wade through social media just to see if you're okay.

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