Rescue teams dig through collapsed buildings as Mexico earthquake death toll rises



Associated Press

Rescuers say they have found a surviving child in the ruins of a school that collapsed in Mexico's 7.1 earthquake, one of many efforts across the city to save people trapped in under schools, homes and businesses toppled by a quake that killed at least 223 people.

Rescue workers continue to search in the debris to save people believed to be trapped in the school.
Source: Associated Press

Helmeted workers worked at the debris, sometimes calling for silence, as they tried to reach the girl at the Enrique Rebsamen school in southern Mexico City.

Foro TV reported that rescuers spotted the child and shouted to her to move her hand if she could hear them, and she did.

A search dog subsequently entered the wreckage and confirmed she was alive.

Yesterday's 7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands.

Just hours before it hit, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.

One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at the Rebsamen primary and secondary school, where a wing of the three-storey building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. 

Volunteer rescue worker Dr Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen.

He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.

A mix of neighbourhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school's ruins.

The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received WhatsApp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed.

Rescuers brought in wooden beams to shore up the fallen concrete slabs so they wouldn't collapse further and crush whatever airspaces remained.

Search continues amongst the rubble for survivors

The federal Education Department reported that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school's wreckage, all but four of them children.

It was not clear whether those deaths were included in the overall death toll of 223 reported by the federal civil defence agency.

Pena Nieto had earlier reported 22 bodies found and said 30 children and eight adults were reported missing.

At the site of a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City, rescuers worked atop a three-storey pile of rubble, forming a human chain that passed pieces of rubble across four city blocks to a site where they were dumped.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 pm (local time) and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 123 kilometres southeast of Mexico City.

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