The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY–A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the ruins of her school stretched into a new day today–a vigil broadcast across the nation as rescue workers struggled in rain and darkness to pick away unstable debris and reach her.
The sight of her wiggling fingers early yesterday became a symbol for the hope that drove thousands of professionals and volunteers to work frantically at dozens of wrecked buildings across the capital and nearby states looking for survivors of the magnitude 7.1 quake that killed at least 245 people in central Mexico and injured more than 2,000.
Mexico’s navy announced early today it had recovered the body of a school worker from the Enrique Rebsamen school, but still had not been able to rescue the trapped child.
Rescuers removed dirt bucketful by bucketful, and passed a scanner over the rubble every hour or so to search for heat signatures that could indicate trapped survivors.
Shortly before dawn, the pile shuddered ominously, prompting those working atop it to evacuate.
“We are just metres away from getting to the children but we can’t access it until it is shored up,” said Vladimir Navarro, a university employee who was exhausted after working all night.
“With the shaking there has been, it is very unstable and taking any decision is dangerous,” he stressed.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said the number of confirmed dead in the capital had risen from 100 to 115.
An earlier federal government statement had put the overall toll at 230, including 100 deaths in Mexico City.
Mancera also said two women and a man had been pulled alive from a collapsed office building in the city’s centre last night, almost 36 hours after the quake.
President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of mourning while soldiers, police, firefighters, and everyday citizens kept digging through rubble; at times with their hands gaining an inch at a time, at times with cranes and backhoes to lift heavy slabs of concrete.
A man was pulled alive from a partly-collapsed apartment building in northern Mexico City more than 24 hours after the Tuesday quake and taken away in a stretcher, apparently conscious
In all, 52 people had been rescued alive since the quake, the city’s Social Development Department said, adding in a tweet: “We won’t stop.”