MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Rescuers toiled to wrest a young girl from the rubble of a partially collapsed school in Mexico City on Wednesday, offering a small glimmer of hope more than a day after a devastating earthquake killed at least 224 people.
Television stations broadcast the nailbiting, hours-long rescue attempt live after crews at the school in the south of the city reported seeing the girl move her hand. They threaded a hose through debris to get her water.
The girl’s name was not made public, but her family waited in anguish nearby.
Rescuers moved slowly, erecting makeshift wooden scaffolding to prevent rubble from crumbling further and seeking a path to the child through the unstable ruins. They implored bystanders to be quiet to better hear calls for help.
It was part of the careful search for dozens of victims feared buried beneath the Enrique Rebsamen school, where officials reported 21 children and 4 adults dead after Tuesday’s quake. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the country’s deadliest earthquake in a generation.
“We have a lot of hope that some will still be rescued,” said David Porras, one of scores of volunteers helping the search at the school, for children aged 3 to 14.
“But we’re slow, like turtles,” he said.
The magnitude 7.1 quake, which killed at least 93 people in the capital, struck 32 years to the day after a 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Mexico is also still reeling from a powerful tremor that killed nearly 100 people in the south of the country less than two weeks ago.
Emergency crews, volunteers and bystanders toiled on Wednesday using dogs, cameras, motion detectors and heat-seeking equipment to detect victims who may still be alive more than 24-hours after the quake.
Reinforcements also began to arrive from countries including Panama, Israel and Chile, local media reported.
Hundreds of neighbors and emergency workers pulled rubble from the ruins of the school with their bare hands under the glare of floodlights a full day after the shock. Three survivors were found at around midnight as volunteer rescue teams known as “moles” crawled deep under the rubble.
By Wednesday morning, the workers said a teacher and two students had sent text messages from within the rubble. Parents clung to hope that their children were alive.
Overnight, volunteers with bullhorns shouted the names of rescued kids so that waiting family members could be reunited with them.