Mexico earthquake: Race to find survivors under collapsed school

 Workers dug through toppled buildings in Mexico City for a second night

Workers dug through toppled buildings in Mexico City for a second night

Rescuers are racing against the clock to reach survivors trapped under the rubble of a school in Mexico City which collapsed during Tuesday’s earthquake.

One of them, a 13-year-old girl, is believed to be sheltering under a table, officials told the BBC.

At least 21 children and five adults died when the primary school collapsed and many others are missing.

The school was one of dozens of buildings toppled by the quake. So far 230 people are known to have died.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has declared three days of mourning for the victims.

As rescue operations continued for a second night, attention was focused on the Enrique Rébsamen primary school, in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district.

With anxious parents gathered outside awaiting news of missing children, civil protection volunteer Enrique Gardia announced that a thermal scanner had detected survivors trapped between slabs of concrete.

“They are alive! Alive!” he shouted.

“Someone hit a wall several times in one place, and in another there was a response to light signals with a lamp,” he added.

One mother, standing nearby waiting for news of her seven-year-old daughter, told reporters: “No-one can possibly imagine the pain I’m in right now.”

Enrique Rébsamen school was brimming with hundreds of first responders, soldiers, doctors and even teachers racing against the clock to rescue people believed to still be alive beneath the collapsed classrooms.

From the roof of a school building opposite the classrooms, Mexico’s secretary of public education and a senior military officer were commanding the rescue operation, shouting orders over a tannoy.

At one point, a rescuer emerged from the rubble with a frantic query – there was a girl trapped, but alive, on what was a lower floor. Should rescuers focus efforts on her or continue searching other parts of the collapsed structure?

As anxious families looked on, the military officer shouted that rescuers should only focus on the trapped girl, and other areas within the structure would have to wait. Scores of workers sprang into action, labouring for hours to try to free the girl.

As night fell over Mexico City a steady rain began to fall. Search operations were slowed as workers spread tarpaulins over the rescue site. With the possibility that lives can still be saved, rescuers were battling to save any souls left beneath the rubble.


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