Volunteers and rescuers are working around the clock in central Mexico to bring earthquake survivors out of the wreckage of fallen buildings.
Tuesday afternoon, a 7.1 earthquake struck the state of Puebla, about 93 miles southeast of the nation’s capital, Mexico City. The earthquake has leveled at least 44 buildings in the capital and damaged thousands of others there and across the state of Puebla.
One of the most devastating fallen buildings is the Enrique Rebsámen primary school in southeastern Mexico City. The school was full of children when it collapsed. Of the 400 students who attend, 60 have been hospitalized and at least 30 have died. Parents and families anxiously wait outside for news of their children, while rescuers keep lists of those who have yet to be found.
The People of Mexico Uniting, Volunteering
Volunteers have taken the lead, not waiting for official instructions. Mexican citizens have come out in droves to help one another. People are forming human chains to gather and clear rubble, while parks and roundabouts have turned into makeshift distribution centers for supplies like water, blankets, and first aid supplies.
“It’s very characteristic of the Mexican people. We stand together,” medical student Christian Piñeiro told the New York Times as he handed out medication with a team of doctors. “Independent of the fact that there are gangs and crime,” he said, “the people unify against adversity.”
Volunteers are working around the clock to find people in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Some survivors, like Sergio Iván Ruíz, are still emerging from the wreckage. Rescuers pulled Ruíz from the ruins of an apartment building in the upscale Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. He waited, trapped for 22 hours before anyone could get to him.
Rescuers heard cries for help coming from Ruíz, and from many others whom they were unable to reach in time. The earthquake’s current death toll is 230.
President Enrique Peña Nieto visited some of the devastated sites around the city, as well as the state of Morelos. He has declared three days of national mourning, in honor of the earthquake victims. “Mexico shares your pain,” he said, addressing the bereaved.
“As Mexicans, we have experienced difficult times because of earthquakes in the past, and we have learned to respond with dedication and a spirit of solidarity.” In a video address, he noted that many Mexicans will be without power in the days after the earthquake, but the priority is to find survivors in the rubble and administer medical attention to those in need.
United States President Trump called President Peña Nieto yesterday to express his condolences, according to a White House statement. It said that he has offered earthquake assistance in the form of search-and-rescue teams, which are being deployed to Mexico.
“God bless the people of Mexico City,” Trump tweeted. “We are with you and will be there for you.” Critics of President Trump noted his delay in reaching out to Mexico after the September 7th earthquake. He blamed Mexico’s poor cellphone reception.
Mexico’s Earthquake History
The earthquake struck only two weeks after the largest earthquake in a century hit southern Mexico, killing 90. By strange coincidence, it also fell on the 32nd anniversary of an 8.0 earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985.
Another earthquake, of 6.9 magnitude, struck still farther south along Guatemala’s Pacific coastline in June.