Survivors are still being pulled from rubble in Mexico City as rescue operations stretch into a fourth day, spurring hope among desperate relatives gathered at the sites of buildings collapsed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake.
Mexico's federal police said several people were lifted out of the debris of two buildings yesterday. Rescuers removed or broke through slabs until they found cracks that allowed workers to wiggle through to reach the victims, then lift them to safety.
The city government said 60 people in all had been rescued since the quake hit at midday Tuesday (local time).
Still, with the hours passing, fewer of the living were being found, and the official death toll rose to 273 in Mexico City and several nearby states, with 137 in the capital.
The time was nearing when rescuers would be replaced by bulldozers to clear rubble, but officials went to great pains to say it was still a rescue operation.
Those who witnessed the buildings collapse said the tragedy could have been much worse. Some buildings didn't fall immediately, giving people time to escape, and some shattered but left airspaces where occupants survived.
In other cases, the salvation seemed almost miraculous.
Security guard Felix Giral Barron said that after the quake started, he had time to run and tell people to evacuate his building.
Then an entire apartment building across the street crumbled and a big tank of heating gas on its slid off, but didn't explode.
"The 250-kg gas tank got caught by the trees on the street, and that prevented it from exploding," he said.