Earthquake leaves hundreds dead, crews combing through rubble in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (NEWS 1130) – Mexican federal authorities say the death toll from the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook central Mexico has been raised to at least 230, after the number of confirmed dead in Mexico City rose to 100.

Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings, in search of survivors following the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades.

MORE/VIDEO: Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills more than 200

The nation’s capital bore the brunt of the deaths and damage in Tuesday’s quake, but it has also been the scene of dramatic rescues.

One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.

Volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.

“We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults — a woman and a man,” he said.

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto announced “every minute counts to save lives” as crews worked through the rubble of buildings toppled by the seismic event. He toured areas that had been affected by the earthquake on Wednesday, thanking those sending support and sharing his thoughts.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 p.m. (2:14 p.m. EDT) Tuesday and was centred near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 123 kilometres southeast of Mexico City.

Much of that city is built on former lakebed, and the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centred hundreds of miles away.

The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit Sept. 7 off Mexico’s southern coast and also was felt strongly in the capital.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicenters of the two quakes were 650 kilometres apart and said most aftershocks are within 100 kilometres.

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