Saturday 17 March 2018

Hope fades for girl (12) buried in earthquake rubble of school

Search and rescue efforts continue at the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City. Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
Search and rescue efforts continue at the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City. Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Patrick Timmons and James Badcock Mexico City

Residents in Mexico awoke yesterday to survey the full extent of the destruction from the massive 7.1-magnitude earthquake 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 ask 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 female teacher (58).

They had been unable to rescue a 12-year-old girl who communicated with a rescuer 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 or government authorities have released lists of who might still be trapped in the building, amid complaints of a lack of information.

Tuesday's temblor 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.

Enrique Pena Nieto, the president, toured the hardest-hit areas and declared three days of national mourning.

In Morelos, where 73 people were killed, one family of 11 were killed while celebrating a baptism as the church collapsed around them.

There have been hopeful ­reports of life amid the chaos.

Jessica Mendoza was in the middle of labour in a hospital in the Roma neighbourhood as the earthquake struck.

After being evacuated from the hospital, a "miracle" baby boy was delivered on a nearby bench. "The world was falling around us and he came to save ours," said Amado Ortiz, her husband. (© Daily Telegraph)

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