MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A fresh aftershock rattled southwestern Mexico on Sunday as thousands of rescuers toiled for the sixth straight day despite fading hopes of pulling survivors from the ruins of the country’s deadliest earthquake in 32 years.
With prospects dimming of finding more people alive in the wreckage of Tuesday’s 7.1 magnitude quake, which killed at least 318 people in the Mexico City capital and nearby states, President Enrique Pena Nieto urged Mexicans to turn their attention to rebuilding.
(For a graphic on Mexico earthquake click tmsnrt.rs/2fFELlH)
In the sprawling capital of 20 million people, survivors slept in makeshift shelters or on the street outside their damaged homes. Rescuers using advanced audio equipment to detect signs of life beneath tonnes of rubble narrowed their search to a handful of buildings.
With Mexico facing a presidential election next year, the government’s response to the disaster is under close scrutiny.
Frustration has grown among the thousands left homeless by Tuesday’s quake, with critics saying the government’s reaction pales in comparison with an outpouring of volunteer support, from rescue work to food donations.
“We have received no help from authorities,” said Antonio Ramirez, who was conducting a survey of damaged homes in the historic Xochimilco district in the south of the capital.
“The help has come from ordinary people,” the 57-year-old retired teacher said. “Soldiers, instead of carrying picks and shovels, brought their guns.”
Hitting back against criticism of his government, President Pena Nieto has visited the scene of the devastation and promised ongoing support to those affected.
Dozens of structures were flattened in Mexico City by Tuesday’s quake, the country’s most deadly since a 1985 tremor killed thousands. It was the second major earthquake to strike the country of 127 million people this month.
A massive 8.1 magnitude quake on Sept. 7 off the southwestern coast of Mexico killed around 100 people, most of them in the nearby states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. A series of aftershocks since then have sown panic.
The latest tremor, of 5.9 magnitude, struck on Sunday off the west coast, with its epicenter 99 km (62 miles) south-southwest of Tonala, in Chiapas, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. There were no immediate reports of significant damage.
Aftershocks on Saturday spread fear among Mexico’s traumatized population, and a plume of ash spewed from the…