MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Rescuers labored against the odds on Thursday to extract survivors including school children and five Taiwanese factory workers trapped beneath collapsed buildings in central Mexico following the country’s deadliest earthquake in 32 years.
More than 50 survivors have been plucked from disaster sites in Mexico City since Tuesday afternoon’s 7.1-magnitude quake, and first responders, volunteers and spectators joined in chants of “Yes we can!”
The death toll was at least 233, revised down from 237 earlier on Thursday, according to Mexico’s head of civil protection Luis Felipe Puente. In Mexico City 1,900 were injured.
As the chance of survival diminished with each passing hour, officials vowed to press on, heartened by a few success stories.
Late on Wednesday night, an 8-year-old girl was rescued from a collapsed building in the Tlalpan neighborhood, nearly 36 hours after the quake, the Coyoacan neighborhood government said on Twitter.
But the fight to save a 12-year-old girl at a collapsed school in the south of the capital faced difficulty. Navy-led rescuers have communicated with her but were still unable to dig her free.
Just as it seemed workers were going to save the girl, they had to suspend their work early on Thursday morning due to a debris collapse, local media reported.
Eleven other children were rescued from the same Enrique Rebsamen School, where students are aged roughly 6 to 15. Twenty-one children and four adults there were killed.
“There’s a girl alive in there. We’re pretty sure of that, but we still don’t know how to get to her,” Admiral Jose Luis Vergara told Televisa, whose cameras had special access to the scene to provide non-stop live coverage.
“The hours that have passed complicate the chances of finding alive or in good health the person who might be trapped,” he said.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed five nationals were trapped in a collapsed clothing factory in the Obrera neighborhood. The victims included Taiwanese businessman Chen Po-wen, according to Carlos Liao, Taiwan’s top envoy to Mexico.
Volunteers cutting through debris at the factory, which had been combed by rescue dogs, heard signs of life.
“First we heard blows, and then…