Saturday 21 April 2018

Hopes fade for girl (12) buried with classmates in Mexico quake rubble

Relatives wait for news of their loved ones as they react next to a collapsed building after an earthquake in Mexico City. Photo: Reuters
Relatives wait for news of their loved ones as they react next to a collapsed building after an earthquake in Mexico City. Photo: Reuters
Rescuers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and volunteers search for survivors in a flattened building in Mexico City yesterday. Photo: Yuri Cortez/Getty

Patrick Timmons

Hopes were fading last night for a 12-year-old girl and her schoolmates still trapped under the rubble two days after a devastating earthquake struck Mexico City.

Residents awoke yesterday to survey the full extent of the destruction from the massive 7.1-magnitude quake that struck on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least 233 people, nearly half of them in the capital.

Rescue efforts have been ceaseless and somewhat chaotic as ordinary Mexicans try to help, with lists of survivors and the dead difficult to come by. Many residents have turned to social media to advise about missing family members.

In the Enrique Rebsamen school in southern Mexico City, where 21 children and four teachers are known to have died and which has become a focal point in the tragedy, rescuers in the early morning dug out the lifeless body of a 58-year-old female teacher.

They had been unable to rescue a 12-year-old girl who communicated with a rescuer early on Wednesday and whose fate has captured the attention of the international media.

"We know that there is a child alive inside. What we do not know is how to reach her... without risking a collapse and putting rescuers in danger," Jose Luis Vergara, the rescue co-ordinator, told national station Televisa.

The military said the girl had spoken, managing to say: "I'm very tired." Aurelio Nuno, the education minister, said: "The armed forces have made the decision... to continue the search until, hopefully, it ends in success."

Neither school nor government authorities have released lists of who might still be trapped in the building, amid complaints of a lack of information from authorities.

Tuesday's tremor struck just two hours after Mexico held a national earthquake drill, as it does every September 19 to remember a devastating 1985 quake that killed tens of thousands.

There were outpourings of support yesterday for Mexico City and other affected districts of Morelos and Puebla. Dozens of collection centres were set up for citizens to contribute food, medicine, tents and other supplies.

Enrique Pena Nieto, the president, toured the hardest-hit areas and declared three days of national mourning. In Morelos, south of the city, where 73 people were killed, one family of 11 were killed while celebrating a baptism as the church collapsed around them. At least 60 of the 100 or so damaged or destroyed buildings in Mexico City were residences, now turned into tombs of rubble.

In the hip Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City, hundreds of volunteers gathered around the Alvaro Obregon building, where 36 people were believed to be trapped. One 20-year-old earthquake refugee said: "Two days ago, I had a home. Now I don't."

As hopes dwindled of finding anybody alive and with tons of rubble still to remove, authorities were increasing calls to use mechanical diggers. They faced opposition from the country's Topos rescuers, who formed as a volunteer search and rescue group in the aftermath of the 1985 quake, and who are famous for burrowing tunnels by propping up the concrete.  (© Daily Telegraph London)

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News