Monday 23 April 2018

'People are texting for help from beneath the rubble' - Irishman caught up in devastating Mexico earthquake

  • Powerful 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico on Tuesday
  • It killed at least 216 but the death toll is expected to rise
  • 22 bodies, including two adults, were pulled from the rubble of a primary school
  • 30 children are missing and eight other adults
  • Workers continuing rescue efforts
  • State of disaster declared in Mexico City
  • Donald Trump tells Mexicans: 'We are with you'
A woman tries to reach people on her cellphone after she evacuated with others to Paseo de la Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico on Tuesday, causing buildings to sway sickeningly in the capital on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that did major damage. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A woman tries to reach people on her cellphone after she evacuated with others to Paseo de la Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico on Tuesday, causing buildings to sway sickeningly in the capital on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that did major damage. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A man is rescued from a collapsed building in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City after an earthquake in Mexico. (AP Photo/Pablo Ramos)
Rescue teams look for people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. The number of people killed in a devastating earthquake that struck Mexico City and nearby regions has risen to 138, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / YURI CORTEZYURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet as they are searching for people under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
A collapsed building is seen after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
This handout photo released by Presidential House press office, shows Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L) visiting the Rebsamen school in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. HO/AFP/Getty Images
Rescue workers look at fellow workers searching for people under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Independent.ie Newsdesk & Agencies

An Irishman caught up in the catastrophic Mexico earthquake has told how buildings are still collapsing and people trapped beneath the rubble are texting for help.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico city on Tuesday and over 200 people have been reported dead.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, Adrian Freeney described the horror that has unfolded.

"My wife’s Facebook media posts are just full of people looking for their missing relatives...a lot of people are under rubble, sending messages about exactly where they are," he said.

"There are people whose batteries are running low which means they won’t be able to contact anyone and they are trapped. After the initial quake took place a lot of people ended up going to the park as there was a smell of gas. Sirens have been going off for the last twelve hours."

Local media reports say 22 bodies, including two adults, were pulled from the rubble of a school that collapsed.

This handout photo released by Presidential House press office, shows Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L) visiting the Rebsamen school in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. HO/AFP/Getty Images
This handout photo released by Presidential House press office, shows Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L) visiting the Rebsamen school in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. HO/AFP/Getty Images

Peña Nieto visited the school late on Tuesday and said in comments broadcast online by Financiero TV that 30 children and eight adults were still reported missing from the Enrique Rebsamen primary schoool.

Parts of the four-storey building collapsed, trapping students and teachers inside.

A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet as they are searching for people under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet as they are searching for people under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut

Rescue workers were continuing to search and listening for sounds from the rubble.

Earlier the head of Mexico's civil defence agency said the nationwide death toll from Tuesday's earthquake has risen to 216.

Luis Felipe Puente said 55 people died in Morelos state, just south of the capital, while 49 died in Mexico City and 32 died in Puebla state, the location of the earthquake's epicentre.

Peña Nieto said that as of late Tuesday 40 percent of Mexico City and 60 percent of Morelos state have no electricity.

Rescue workers look at fellow workers searching for people under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Rescue workers look at fellow workers searching for people under the rubble of a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The president issued a video statement urging people to stay calm in the aftermath of the disaster.

10 people died in Mexico State, which surrounds the capital, and three in Guerrero state. The count did not include one death reported by officials in Oaxaca state.

A collapsed building is seen after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
A collapsed building is seen after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Claudia Daut

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude 7.1 quake was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City.

It struck 32 years to the day after another powerful earthquake that as many as 10,000 and devastated large parts of Mexico City.

It also came less than two weeks after another major earthquake killed at least 90 people in the country's south.

The federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City and dispatched 3,428 troops to affected areas and nearby states.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is saddened by the loss of life and damage resulting from the earthquake.

Mr Guterres extended his condolences to the government and people of Mexico and wished those injured a speedy recovery, according to a statement released by his spokesman.

The statement said the UN stands ready to assist Mexico following the quake.

Donald Trump, the US president, tweeted: "God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you."

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