Massive Mexico temblor kills 217, many trapped under debris
Mexico City, Sep 20 (IANS) Thousands of rescuers raced against time to find survivors on Wednesday after a 7.1-magnitude quake struck Mexico, killing at least 217 people, leaving many trapped under collapsed buildings and forcing people to flood the streets for a second time in two weeks.
As President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a national emergency, soldiers, police and even civilians in Mexico City clawed through mounds of rubble with picks, shovels and bare hands to pull out possible survivors of the 2.15 p.m. Tuesday disaster.
Windows buckled and shattered, falling several storeys to the ground while thousands of people streamed on to the streets running away from buildings and potential gas leaks.
Mexico City, the country’s capital, was the worst hit. Also battered were the states of Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Morelos, CNN and Efe news said. The quake’s epicentre was 4.5 km east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 55 km south-southwest of the city of Puebla.
The tragedy came less than two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude quake hit Mexico on September 7 and killed nearly 100 people.
On Wednesday, President Pena Nieto said 22 bodies were found in the debris of an elementary school in Mexico City that collapsed. At least 30 children were still missing.
“We are facing a new national emergency,” he told citizens in a national address.
The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Just hours before the latest quake, many people took part in drills and commemorative events.
The quake was felt far and wide. In Mexico City, there were power outages and more than 40 buildings collapsed crushing cars and trapping people inside. There was widespread panic, the media reports said.
Dozens of buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of nearby states also.
The public transportation system temporarily shut down operations. Nearly five million people were without power early on Wednesday.
The President said an emergency had been declared in the affected areas and the military was being drafted in to help with the response.
All public and private schools in Mexico City and some of the states affected by the earthquake will remain closed until further notice, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted.
Foreign leaders sent messages of support to Mexico.
US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”