‘Earthquake boy,’ the 1985 survivor who was born from the dead

Jesús Francisco Flores Medina has lost track of how many times he has told his story, but it was etched on him even before he was born.

Famous as “earthquake boy” (Niño Terremoto,) Jesús Francisco Flores Medina grew up among the ghoulish curiosity, controversy, teasing and poverty that resulted from the circumstances of constant struggle that were the price to pay for his life when the earthquake struck on September 19, 1985. He was born from the dead, he says.

Chuchín, as he’s been nicknamed since he was little, is a miracle of the earthquake that ravaged what was then known as the Federal District, which has been classified as the most devastating earthquake in Mexico’s history.

Self-assured, Francisco Flores begins to narrate his story by saying he was born “on the morning of a terrible September 19.” However, he was removed from his mother’s body three days after the catastrophe, which claimed the lives of virtually his entire kin.

Like every morning, his grandmother, Brenda Medina Colín, went out to get some milk for breakfast. So, she left the residential unit where she lived with other 24 relatives, behind the Plaza Garibaldi, more specifically, in San Camilito.

7:19 a.m: The earthquake, which started two minutes before, began to be felt in Mexico’s capital. It lasted less than a blink of an eye and the never-ending movement left the entire place in silence, just to make it burst into tears and lamentations moments later. The intensity of the earthquake left the entire city in ruins, hundreds of buildings, schools, homes collapsed; and among them, was Brenda Medina.

Under the rubble was Martha Cruz Medina, her 17-year-old daughter, who was seven months' pregnant.

Aid workers arrived at the site but couldn’t find the minor’s body. Brenda, unwilling to give up, crossed the cordoned-off area and searched for her daughter, found her body, and saw that the baby in her belly was still alive.

Francisco relates how his grandmother, using a razor blade, let him live by cutting open her daughter’s belly, and seeing he showed vital signs, put him in a shoebox and handed him over to a Red Cross rescuer.

Thirty-three years after the tragedy, his continues to be one of the most shocking stories of the two earthquakes that occurred on September 19.