Bystanders joined forces with emergency services to find victims who may still be alive underneath the rubble caused by a devastating earthquake in central Mexico.
The earthquake struck at 13:00 local time on September 19, reducing dozens of buildings to rubble and killing hundreds of people, including many children.
Mexico’s National Coordinator for Civil Protection, Luis Felipe Puentes, said on Twitter that 223 people had been killed.
— Luis Felipe Puente (@LUISFELIPE_P) September 20, 2017
According to Puente, the breakdown of the death toll so far is: 93 people in Mexico City, 69 in Morelos, 43 in Puebla, 13 in Edoméx, four in Guerrero, and one in Oaxaca.
Rescuers searched desperately for victims believed to be buried beneath the Enrique Rebsamen school, where officials reported 21 children and 4 adults dead.
“We have a lot of hope that some will still be rescued,” said volunteer David Porras.
“But we’re slow, like turtles,” he told Reuters.
Neighbouring states were also badly affected.
The 7.1 magnitude quake struck 32 years to the day after Mexico’s catastrophic 1985 earthquake. It follows a stronger – but less deadly – 8.1 magnitude quake that shook southwestern Mexico nearly two weeks ago, killing at least 90 people.
Yesterday’s epicentre was located in the Mexican state of Puebla, some 75 miles (120km) from its capital, Mexico City.
A map showing the earthquake’s epicentre | Source: Google Maps (accessed 20/9/17 at 11:10 GMT)
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera told a Mexican national TV channel that buildings at 44 locations had collapsed or were severely damaged.
A freelance journalist based in the Mexican capital, Anna-Catherine Brigida, told WikiTribune: “We didn’t hear the [warning] alarm. It just started shaking.”
Brigida said the earthquake lasted for about a minute and that when she made her way out onto the street, the trees, the lamp posts, were all shaking.
“People were really freaked out.”
Camila Cortes Nowack, a medical intern at the Tacubaya Paediatric Hospital, told WikiTribune via Facebook: “It was horrible! You can’t imagine the chaos.”
A massive rescue and clean-up operation is underway in several Mexican states, led by the National System for Civil Protection (SNPC).
Emergency workers have also been joined by local residents as they pick through the rubble in an effort to rescue survivors and recover dead bodies.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on national television yesterday that he would deploy Mexico’s armed forces to help local authorities search for trapped people.
Condolences from around the world have been pouring in.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”
God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017
Ellen Degeneres, the popular U.S. show host, tweeted: “Sending all of my love to the people of #Mexico today.”
Sending all of my love to the people of #Mexico today.❤️ 🇲🇽
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 19, 2017
Mexico is highly prone to violent seismic activity. The country straddles three of Earth’s largest tectonic plates: the North American, the Pacific, and the Cocos tectonic plates.