Emergency crews and volunteers are digging through rubble with their bare hands in search of trapped survivors after a strong earthquake stuck central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, toppling dozens of buildings and killing at least 225 people
The magnitude 7.1 quake — the deadliest to hit the nation since 1985 — struck soon after 1pm local time, causing brutal, prolonged shaking, which flattened buildings and sent masonry tumbling onto roads, crushing cars and people from the capital, Mexico City, and surrounding areas.
As the sun rose on Wednesday, rescuers continued to scramble to reach survivors pinned inside the ruins of offices, schools and apartment blocks. Power cuts left much of the funds. People had spent the night outside, fearful of aftershocks.
It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in a couple of weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.
The earthquake appeared to have triggered an eruption of Mexico’s Popocatpetl volcano. In Atzitzihuacn on the volcano’s slopes, a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, Puebla governor Jos Antonio Gali said.
Authorities said at least 54 people died in the state of Morelos, with 30 perishing in Mexico City, 26 in Puebla state and nine in the nation of Mexico, which borders the funding.
Public education undersecretary Javier Trevio said 21 children and four adults had expired at the failed Enrique Rebsmen school, according to local media. The internet news business Animal Poltico reported at least 30 children were still trapped in the school, based on Mexico City authorities.
The Mexican president, Enrique Pea Nieto, visited the site on Tuesday evening and was besieged by parents, telling him that their children were missing.
Police local residents and firefighters were using their bare hands to dig through the ruins of the construction, which had secondary, primary and pre-school classes. Appeals went out for torches, water and batteries to help the rescuers.
Pedro Serrano, a 29-year-old physician, was among those volunteers who managed to crawl in the rubble of a classroom only to find its occupants dead.
“We dug holes, then crawled in on our bellies,” Serrano told the Associated Press.
“We managed to get into a collapsed classroom. We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults a woman and a man.”
Asked if there was hope of finding anyone alive, Serrano said workers still tried despite the danger.
“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above [crumbling] , or someone below calling for help.”
Parents outside the gates stated they had heard reports that two families had obtained WhatsApp messages from women but that could not be confirmed.
The rescue attempt was punctuated by cries of “Quiet!” To allow searchers to listen to any calls for help.
Guillermo Salazar, a construction foreman whose team was working on a half-finished apartment block, stated “the building swayed like a hammock” when the quake struck.
Everyone escaped thanks in part to an earthquake drill held two hours before, added Salazar. “It was helpful. Everyone knew what to do.”
Elsewhere, however, there was chaos. Authorities took to react to a construction in La Condesa, a wealthy part of Mexico City, that countless people frantically scrambled through the rubble with their hands using shovels and shopping trolleys to remove debris.
The death toll improvised citizen brigades and was expected to keep on climbing as emergency crews.
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