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Mexico quake: death toll climbs to at least 230 as volunteers join search for survivors

The death toll from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake has climbed to at least 230, with over 44 buildings collapsing in Mexico city, with thousands more damaged

21 September 2017, 10:39am
Rescuers and volunteers search for survivors in a flattened building in Mexico City. The mayor said across the city 52 people had been pulled out alive (Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP)
Rescuers and volunteers search for survivors in a flattened building in Mexico City. The mayor said across the city 52 people had been pulled out alive (Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP)
Rescue workers, backed by several untrained volunteers searched tirelessly for survivors buried under mounds of rubble, as the death toll rose to at least 237, across central Mexico, following Tuesday’s earthquake.

The 7.1 magnitude quake caused chaos and destruction across Mexico’s capital, causing the collapse of at least 44 buildings, according to official figures. Thousands more were left unstable and damaged.

Miguel Ángel Mancera, mayor of Mexico city said that 52 people had been pulled alive from the rubble so far.

Rescuers raced against time to reach a girl, who was found to be buried under a collapsed school, towards the south of Mexico city. Rescuers found her as they saw her wriggling fingers protruding from the rubble. The girl, identified only as Frida Sofia, told rescuers that there were two other students nearly, but she couldn’t tell whether or not they were still alive, according to broadcaster Televisa.

One wing of the three-storey building of the Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary school collapsed into a pile of concrete. It collapsed as teachers were attempting to escort the children outside to safety.

On Tuesday, the bodies of 21 school children and four adults were found and outside the ruined school, anxious parents gathered and waited for news of more than 30 children who are still unaccounted for.

 

Just outside of Mexico City, one of the hardest hit places was Jojutla, a small town in the neighbouring state of Morelos. At least 14 people were confirmed dead, with 300 homes and offices having been completely destroyed, and another 1,500 other buildings were damaged, according to the mayor. At least 71 people were confirmed dead across the region.

Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, declared three days of national mourning in honour of the victims, with the death toll expected to rise in coming days.

Less than two weeks ago, Mexico was struck by a powerful 8.4 earthquake, which killed almost 100 people in the south of the country. Tuesday’s quake struck 21 years to the day after the lethal tremor.

In the capital, the neighbourhoods of La Condesa and La Roma were also struck badly and several apartment blocks within a few blocks of each other were toppled.

Across the city, initial rescue efforts were spearheaded by neighbours, shopkeepers, and passers-by until emergency services and the armed forces arrived on the scene.

Hundreds of people wearing makeshift protective clothing formed human chains to remove debris and bring essential supplies like water and medicines into the affected areas.

Thousands of people donated time, and medicines, food, water, blankets and other basic supplies to help relief efforts. Restaurants delivered food to shelters where thousands of people were forced to seek refuge after their homes were left damaged.

Sergio Aguyo, a well respected political analyst, wrote in a Twitter post: “Xochimilco needs help, provisions and volunteers. There are important damages and no support has arrived.”