Mexico holds out hope for survivors among earthquake rubble

Japanese rescue crews conduct search and rescue in a Taxquena building in Mexico City on Friday, three days after a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook central Mexico. Photo by Ulises Ruiz Basurto/EPA-EFE

Sept. 23 (UPI) — Rescuers said they detected signs of life Friday inside a ruined apartment building some 72 hours after it collapsed in an earthquake that shook central Mexico.

Officials said they believe eight people are trapped in the rubble of the apartment complex in Mexico City’s Tlalpan neighborhood, though they could only confirm signs of life from one.

The Guardian reported four people were rescued from the site Thursday.

“The building collapsed like a sandwich,” said Blanca Villafañez, a doctor who volunteered at the scene for 16 hours. “We don’t know where she is exactly,” and the search was slow “because if you remove the wrong piece of rubble it could crush any survivors.”

Teams of rescuers worked across the region Friday, still searching for people believed to be trapped in debris left by the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rattled the greater Mexico City area Tuesday.

Searchers pulled a person alive from the rubble of a textile factory in the capital’s Colonia Obrera neighborhood Thursday. NBC News said its reporters witnessed two others pulled alive from rubble later in the day. At least 21 people were killed at the factory.

Searching was halted at the Enrique Rebsamen school, where officials initially thought a 12-year-old girl was still alive. That story proved to be untrue; 11 children were removed safely from the site while 19 children and six adults died.

On Friday, Mexico City Mayor Angel Mancera said at least 3,000 buildings in the capital were damaged, many deemed uninhabitable. Others still await assessment.

In Morelos state, closer to the epicenter, Gov. Graco Ramirez said 20,000 houses and 186 schools were damaged.

The most recent death toll was at least 293 people: 155 in Mexico City, 73 in Morelos, 45 in Puebla state, 13 in Mexico state, six in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca state, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said rescue attempts would not be suspended despite “false rumors” to the contrary.

“We will maintain the work of rescue to look for anyone who may be alive beneath the rubble,” he said.


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