MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Desperate residents left homeless by Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in a generation gathered in a tent village in the south of the capital on Friday, as the death toll climbed to 286 and signs of exhaustion gripped rescuers three days after the tremor.
Tuesday’s 7.1 magnitude quake leveled some 52 buildings in the sprawling Mexican capital, sparking a frenzied hunt for survivors and prompting political parties to outdo each other with pledges of donations to the rescue efforts ahead of next year’s election.
Across the city of 20 million people, the extent of damage from the quake was becoming apparent, with many people whose dwellings had become uninhabitable seeking somewhere to call home, raising the risk of a housing shortage in coming weeks.
Despite dimming hopes of finding more survivors, President Enrique Pena Nieto insisted rescue operations would continue.
Local media reported that military officials pulled two people from the wreckage of a textile factory in the central Colonia Obrera neighborhood of the capital late on Thursday, though it was not immediately clear if they survived.
In the Girasoles complex in the south of the city, officials cordoned off large areas of the development after two of its roughly 30 apartment buildings collapsed. A handwritten sign across the street listed 14 people said to have died there.
Anguished residents, who were given a series of 20-minute blocks of time to collect belongings from their apartments, feared their homes could be turned to rubble once inspectors have determined which buildings are safe and which may need to be demolished if they are a risk to public safety.
“The building is very, very damaged. It moves. Everything moves,” said Vladimir Estrada, a 39-year-old musical radio programmer, returning from a rushed trip to his fifth floor apartment with plastic bags stuffed with his belongings.
“Nobody here has insurance. Some have family members who can help them but others don‘t. Everything is in doubt.”
Several removal vans were laden with mattresses and furniture as those who were able to leave packed up and did so.
But, with few places to go and concern for their largely uninsured properties, many chose to camp out, making the most of allotted windows of time to extricate their possessions. Others slept in their cars.
Emergency services worker Ana Karen Almanza was helping coordinate the arrival of donated supplies in the park, where about a dozen…