The death toll across Mexico has risen to 250 people since a massive 7.1-magnitude earthquake first struck on Tuesday afternoon—32 years to the day after another catastrophic quake rocked the country in 1985. Annual earthquake drills were, in fact, being held a few hours before the actual quake struck.
Just two weeks ago, another earthquake killed at least 90 people in the southern part of the country.
More than 50 survivors have been pulled from disaster sites throughout Mexico City so far. Though hope of finding more survivors is fast fading, as of Thursday morning, rescuers were still trying to free a 12-year-old schoolgirl, and possibly others, trapped beneath a collapsed school.
The girl has been communicating with emergency crews, according to several reports, and even managed to wiggle her fingers for rescuers to see. “There’s a girl alive in there,” Adm. José Luis Vergara told a local TV network, “but we still don’t know how to get to her.”
A doctor working with the rescuers originally told the Associated Press that her name was Frida Sofia but, despite its becoming a top-trending term on Twitter, questions remain about her name. Teachers at the school say there is no student with that name, according to NPR, and a report in El Universal suggests that a rescuer had simply used the name as a way to communicate with the trapped girl.
“To see a parent carry their own dead baby is something I will never forget,” said Elena Villaseñor, a volunteer told The Times.
At least 30 students were killed on Tuesday when the Enrique Rebsámen school collapsed while others managed to make it out of the wreckage. More than 60 students were injured and sent to area hospitals, according to The New York Times.
Throughout the city, rescuers, using dogs, cameras, motion detectors and heat-seeking devices to locate survivors, have been joined by thousands of volunteers and family members of those missing, Reuters reports, and thousands more have donated food, water, medicine, blankets and other urgently needed supplies.
“While many eyes are on the earthquake effects in Mexico City, this town of 20,000 people was crumbling,” James Fredrick told NPR. “Its old abode buildings were no match for the 7.1 quake.”
Outside the capital, in many towns and cities, old adobe houses and relatively new buildings alike were completely leveled. Far more have been killed in central Morelos state than the capital city partly because there is far less help in Morelos and partly because the quake initially caused more severe damage, Fredrick said.
The sprawling recovery effort, in fact, spans several states in central Mexico hit by the earthquake.
La prioridad sigue siendo rescatar a las personas en estructuras colapsadas y atender a los heridos. Cada minuto cuenta para salvar vidas.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) September 20, 2017
“The priority continues to be rescuing people in collapsed structures and treating the wounded,” Peña Nieto tweeted on Wednesday as he surveyed the damage in the capital and outlying areas. For the second time in one month, Peña Nieto declared a three-day period of national mourning.