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The death toll from Tuesday’s earthquake in Mexico reached 225 yesterday afternoon — including at least 25 children killed when a school collapsed
National Civil Defence agency chief Luis Felipe Puente said the number included all known dead to date following the magnitude 7.1 earthquake.
Mr Puente said 94 of those were in Mexico City, 71 in Morelos state, 43 in Puebla, 12 in the State of Mexico, four in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.
Adding poignancy to the tragedy, the disaster struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands.
Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.
One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at the Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary school in Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed.
The federal Education Department reported late on Tuesday that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school’s wreckage, all but four of them children.
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. 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.
“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help.”
In a video message released late Tuesday, President Enrique Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40 per cent of Mexico City and 60 per cent of nearby Morelos state remained without power.
Pope Francis led tens of thousands of people in prayer for the victims in Rome yesterday morning, with many Mexican pilgrims present for his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square.
Speaking in Spanish, Francis said: “In this moment of pain, I want to express my closeness and prayer to the dear Mexican people.” He urged prayers for victims, their families and rescue workers.
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