World

Mexico reels from another quake

Second earthquake in less than two weeks kills more than 200, with the death toll expected to rise

MEXICO CITY: Desperate rescue workers scrabbled through rubble in a search yesterday for children feared buried under a Mexico City school, one of hundreds of buildings wrecked by an earthquake on Tuesday afternoon.

The magnitude 7.1 shock killed at least 217 people, 32 years to the day after a devastating 1985 quake and less than two weeks after a powerful tremor killed nearly 100 people in the south of the country.

Among the ruins of the Enrique Rebsamen school, soldiers and firefighters found at least 22 dead children and two adults, while another 30 children and 12 adults were missing, President Enrique Pena Nieto said.

Bulldozers moved rubble under the buzz and glare of floodlights powered by generators, and parents clung to the hope that their children were alive.

"They keep pulling kids out, but we know nothing of my daughter," said 32-year-old Adriana D'Fargo, her eyes red after hours waiting for news of her seven-year-old.

Three survivors were found around midnight as volunteer rescue teams formed after the 1985 quake and known as "moles" crawled deep under the rubble.

The earthquake toppled dozens of buildings, broke gas mains and sparked fires across central Mexico. Falling rubble and billboards crushed cars.

The US Geological Survey located the quake's epicentre in the state of Puebla, some 158km south-west of the capital.

As the earth shook, Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano had a small eruption. On its slopes, a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, Puebla Governor Jose Antonio Gali said.

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

(Above) Workers rescuing a person from a collapsed building. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

Residents of Mexico City, home to some 20 million people, slept in the streets while the authorities and volunteers set up tented collection centres to distribute food and water.

Volunteers, soldiers and firefighters formed human chains and dug with hammers and picks to find dust-covered survivors and bodies.

The neighbourhood of Del Valle was hit hard, with many buildings toppling over on just one street. Reserve rescue workers arrived late on Tuesday night and were still pulling survivors out early yesterday.

With power out in much of the city, the work was carried out in the dark or with flashlights and generators. Rescue workers requested silence as they listened for signs of life.

The quake had killed 86 people in the capital by yesterday morning, according to National Civil Protection chief Luis Felipe Puente. In Morelos state, 71 people were killed. In Puebla, at least 43 died. Another 17 people were reported killed in Guerrero and Oaxaca states.

Mr Moises Amador Mejia, a 44-year-old employee of the civil protection agency, was working to rescue people trapped in a collapsed building in Mexico City's bohemian Condesa neighbourhood.

He said: "The idea is to stay here until we find who is inside. Day and night." - REUTERS

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