Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills 230 - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Copy-Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills 230

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MEXICO CITY (Meredith/AP) — Mexican federal authorities say the death toll from the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook central Mexico has been raised to 230 after the number of confirmed dead in Mexico City rose to 100.

The nation's capital bore the brunt of the deaths and damage in Tuesday's quake, but it has also been the scene of dramatic rescues.

On Wednesday, a man who had spent more than 24 hours in the rubble of a partly collapsed apartment building was pulled alive from the precarious structure. The president of the borough where the first two floors of a multi-story building pancaked identified the man as Jose Luis Ponce.

Rescuers spotted the girl and shouted to her to move her hand if she could hear them, and she did, according to Foro TV. A search dog was then sent into the wreckage to confirm she was alive.

Tuesday's magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours before it hit, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.

One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at the Rebsamen primary and secondary school, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.

Volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.

"We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults — a woman and a man," he said.

"We can hear small noises, but we don't know if they're coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help."

A mix of neighborhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school's rubble. The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received Whatsapp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed.

Rescuers brought in wooden beams to shore up the fallen concrete slabs so they wouldn't collapse further and crush whatever airspaces remained.

In a video message released late Tuesday, Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40 percent of Mexico City and 60 percent of nearby Morelos state were without power. But, he said, "the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people."

People across central Mexico already had rallied to help their neighbors as dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of broken concrete. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed and twisted and hundreds of thousands of panicked people ran into the streets.

The huge volunteer effort included people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers lined up alongside with construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line.

Even Mexico City's normally raucous motorcycle clubs swung into action, using motorcades to open lanes for emergency vehicles on avenues crammed with cars largely immobilized by street closures and malfunctioning stoplights.

"When we saw this, we came to help. This is ugly, very ugly."

Dust-covered and exhausted from digging, 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza said two people were pulled alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in the Roma Sur neighborhood during a three-hour period.

As night fell, huge flood lights lit up the recovery sites, but workers and volunteers begged for headlamps.

Where a six-story office building collapsed in Mexico City, sisters Cristina and Victoria Lopez Torres formed part of a human chain passing bottled water.

"I think it's human nature that drives everyone to come and help others," Cristina Lopez said.

"We are young. We didn't live through '85. But we know that it's important to come out into the streets to help," said her sister Victoria.

Ricardo Ibarra, 48, did live through the 1985 quake and said there hadn't been anything like it since.

Wearing a bright orange vest and carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag strapped to it, he said he and his friends just wanted to help.

"People are very sensitive because today was the 32nd anniversary of a tragedy," he said.

A Twitter user posted a video that allegedly shows a group of people inside a building during the earthquake.

Earlier in the day workplaces across the city held readiness drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, a magnitude 8.1 shake, which killed thousands of people and devastated large parts of Mexico City.

In the Roma neighborhood, which was hit hard by the 1985 quake, piles of stucco and brick fallen from building facades littered the streets. At least one large parking structure collapsed. Two men calmed a woman seated on a stool in the street, blood trickling from a small wound on her knee.

At a nearby market, a worker in a hardhat walked around the outside warning people not to smoke as a smell of gas filled the air.

This video posted to Twitter claims to show a building swaying during the earthquake, and pieces of the structure's facade falling to the ground.

Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, said she was in a taxi a few blocks away when the quake struck. She said she saw glass bursting out of the windows of some buildings. She was anxiously trying to locate her children, whom she had left in the care of her disabled mother.

Pictures fell from office building walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over. Some people dove for cover under desks. Local media broadcast video of whitecap waves churning the city's normally placid canals of Xochimilco as boats bobbed up and down.

One Instagram user, "rramos1032," uploaded a video of the earthquake while it was happening. The post shows hanging lamps in a restaurant swaying back and forth while crowds of people rush into the streets.

"Thank you God for keeping us safe once again. We got to experience another terrible #earthquake, this time during a location scout.," Ramos said in the post.

Mobile Users Click Here.

A post shared by Ricardo Ramos V (@rramos1032) on

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 p.m. (2:14 p.m. EDT) and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 76 miles (123 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.

Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centered hundreds of miles away.

The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit Sept. 7 off Mexico's southern coast and also was felt strongly in the capital.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicenters of the two quakes were 400 miles (650 kilometers) apart and said most aftershocks are within (60 miles) 100 kilometers.

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