Desperate dig for survivors in Mexico after devastating earthquake

MEXICO CITY, Andrea Sosa and Denis Duettmann (dpa) - Mexico's disaster services enlisted firefighters, soldiers, police and volunteers to dig Wednesday for people trapped in collapsed buildings after a violent earthquake shook the country, killing more than 220 people.
More than 40 buildings collapsed in Mexico City, including an elementary school where 21 schoolchildren and four adults were killed.

The earthquake seriously damaged about 500 other buildings in the Mexican capital, leaving many of them uninhabitable.
The 7.1-magnitude tremor that struck on Tuesday afternoon occurred on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 10,000 people in 1985.
President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of national mourning in honour of the victims. He also urged the people of Mexico to remain united in the face of the challenge, with the death toll expected to rise.
"This earthquake is a hard and very painful test for our country, but we Mexicans have learned to respond with commitment and a spirit of solidarity," he said.
Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there was a lack of experts who can inspect buildings, and the city is relying on about 200 engineering and architecture students and faculty at the University of Mexico (UNAM) to make up for the shortfall .
“Many people have not been able to return home after cracks appeared in structures,” Mancera told TV station Televisa.
In addition to Mexico City, two states to the south of the capital, Morelos and Puebla, were badly affected. The epicentre of the quake was about 130 kilometres south of the metropolis near Axochiapan.
The town of Atzala in the state of Puebla reported at least 11 deaths. The earthquake caused the roof and the dome of a church there to fall in during a baptism.
The number of injured people across the country is estimated at 700, including 400 seriously. With several hospitals damaged, injured people were treated in the open air.
The Education Ministry said 209 schools have been closed, 15 of them with severe damage. The energy company CFE said 3.8 million people were temporarily without electricity, and the telephone network in Mexico City was erratic.
A distressing scene was unfolding at an elementary school where 25 bodies had been recovered and at least two children and one adult were still missing, Education Minister Aurelio Nuno said Wednesday morning.
"We hear voices; some are still alive," said Jose Luis Vergara, a spokesman for the navy, which is also participated in the rescue effort.
Pena Nieto visited the school in the south of the capital during the night.
An earlier report said as many as 37 had died at the school, but authorities said the number of bodies recovered was 25, including 21 children. A number of schoolchildren were rescued.
Mexico City's world-famous Azteca stadium - the scene of Diego Maradona's "hand of God" goal against England at the 1986 World Cup - was another casualty of the quake. Photographs circulated by local media showed a large crack in one of its stands.
The quake came as Mexico was still recovering from a deadly magnitude-8.1 tremor in the country's south less than two weeks ago.
Pope Francis called it a "time of sorrow" and offered prayers for the dead.
Messages of support came pouring in from other world leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who pledged Germany's solidarity with Mexico.
"Be assured that Germany will stand by you," she wrote in a letter to Pena Nieto.
The EU Commission also conveyed its condolences, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his solidarity with Mexico in a statement.
"Unfortunately, we are having every day a new dramatic event in this part of the world," he said, apparently referring to the destruction wrought by recent hurricanes.
"This time we cannot blame climate change; it is an earthquake; it is a devastating one," he said, speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Thursday, September 21st 2017
Andrea Sosa and Denis Duettmann

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