More than 200 dead after magnitude-7.1 quake strikes Mexico; ‘death toll will rise’

More than 200 people are dead after a magnitude-7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico Tuesday afternoon, hitting on the 32nd anniversary of the biggest quake to ever strike the country’s capital.

SLIDESHOW: Pictures from the Mexico earthquake and the race for survival

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The earthquake struck about 75 miles southeast of Mexico City but caused extensive damage there, leveling at least 44 buildings, including homes, schools and office buildings, according to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who did a flyover of the city Tuesday afternoon.

Among the dead are at least 22 people, including students and at least two adults, from a collapsed primary school in the south of the city. Pena Nieto visited the school late Tuesday. He said the 22 bodies have been recovered but that 30 children and eight adults are still missing.

Rescuers were clawing at the wreckage looking for survivors late Tuesday, pausing to listen for voices. Relatives told The Associated Press they had received WhatsApp messages from two girls inside.

“Children are often the most vulnerable in emergencies such as this and we are particularly concerned because schools across the region were in session and filled with students,” said Jorge Vidal, director of operations at Save the Children in Mexico.

Reuters
Map locating earthquake that struck Mexico on September 19, 2017.

Hanna Monsivais, programs coordinator at Save the Children in Mexico, said she has been out on the streets in Mexico City with hundreds of other people trying to help their neighbors. But entire street blocks have been cordoned off and numerous buildings are still too dangerous to enter because of the damage.

“Volunteers are bringing water, food, clothes, and face masks, so that they can help the official authorities move all the debris and rocks, because there are still people trapped under buildings,” Monsivais said. “Every once in a while authorities ask for silence so they can hear the people who are still trapped. It’s amazing what people are doing for others, but some people are clearly still in complete shock.”

Many areas were still without power today and communications remained limited, Monsivais said.

“This night is going to be tough,” she said. “For sure, tomorrow the death toll will rise.”

Jose Garcia/AFP/Getty Images
Rescue teams work at the Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Sep. 20, 2017.

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