Search for girl trapped beneath rubble in Mexico comes to puzzling end: She never existed

WATCH Mixed messages lead to discovery no girl was trapped in Mexico school following earthquake

After a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico City Tuesday, a frantic search ensued for a 12-year-old girl believed to be trapped beneath the rubble of her collapsed school. But in a bizarre turn of events, officials now say she never existed.

Throughout much of Wednesday and into Thursday, Mexico and the world were transfixed on a pancaked pile of cinderblock and rebar that once made up a wing of the Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary school.

Rescue workers gingerly pulled out some survivors and recovered bodies from the pile of debris, but Mexicans officials believed at least one student was still buried alive there. For some 48 hours, rescuers tried to reach the girl, who reportedly told them her name and said there were others trapped nearby.

ABC News and other media outlets reported about the search for the girl, based on interviews with Mexican officials and rescue workers at the scene who thought the story was true.

Here’s a closer look at how it all unfolded:

Tuesday, Sept. 19

The earthquake hit central Mexico around 2:14 p.m. ET, just hours after the region engaged in earthquake drills on the 32nd anniversary of a 1985 earthquake that claimed thousands of lives in Mexico. Tuesday’s quake was centered near Raboso in Puebla state, some 75 miles southeast of Mexico City, according to the United States Geological Survey.

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

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The natural disaster caused extensive damage to the capital, cracking roads and 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.

Mexico’s education minister reported later Tuesday that 25 bodies — 21 children and four adults — had been recovered from the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary school in Mexico City.

The Associated Press reported that relatives said they had received WhatsApp messages from two girls inside the school’s wreckage.

Wednesday, Sept. 20

Search and rescue efforts were well underway at the school Wednesday as reports of the trapped girl began to emerge.

Mexico’s education minister told ABC News on Wednesday morning that 11 people had been rescued so far. But three others — two children and one adult — were still missing.

Foro TV reported that rescue workers spotted a child amid…

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