A powerful earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, causing dozens of buildings to collapse and killing more than 200 people.
One of the buildings that buckled at the magnitude 7.1 earthquake was a wing of the Enrique Rebsamen, a primary and secondary school in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district.
As of Thursday morning, at least 21 schoolchildren and four adults have been confirmed dead, Reuters reported. Three survivors were found. Forty-two people – 30 children and 12 adults – remain missing.
The slides below tell the story of the rescue effort, including the attempts to pull a 12-year-old girl from the rubble.
The Enrique Rebsamen school is located in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district, not far from the epicentre of Tuesday’s earthquake.
- Google Maps
A wing of the primary and secondary school collapsed in the earthquake.
The building used to be three storeys, but was reduced to a heap of concrete.
Here’s what it did to a car outside.
Here are rescuers digging through the rubble in search of children who survived. Occasionally, they asked for silence so they could listen for signs of life.
Volunteers silently held up their fists in a gesture of solidarity, the Associated Press said.
Volunteers formed human chains to transport wooden planks that would help prop up parts of the building.
Then, when the building was deemed safe enough, rescuers crawled in to search for victims.
“We dug holes, then crawled in on our bellies,” Pedro Serrano, a 29-year-old doctor who volunteered to join the rescue effort, told the AP.
People around the building held up the names of people who were found and yet to be found in the rubble. You can see some of the signs from the 0:25 mark.
As night fell, search efforts continued.
“They keep pulling kids out, but we know nothing of my daughter,” Adriana D’Fargo, who had been waiting for hours for news of her seven-year-old child, told Reuters.
Volunteers brought in more wooden planks.
At least three survivors were found as of early Wednesday morning, according to Reuters.
The video below shows one successful rescue effort.
— ABC News (@ABC) September 20,2017
“We have a lot of hope that some will still be rescued,” David Porras, a volunteer helping the search efforts at the school, told Reuters. “But we’re slow, like turtles.”
National focus turned to the rescue efforts of a 12-year-old girl, who has been under the rubble for more than 30 hours.
- Edgard Garrido/Reuters
Rescue workers managed to find the girl, identified only as Frida Sofia, when they saw a hand protruding from the rubble and she wiggled her fingers to show that she was alive, Mexican TV network Televisa said, as cited by Reuters.
People around the country watched closely as Televisa live broadcast the rescue efforts on Wednesday.
After rescuers established contact with her, Sofia said there were others trapped in the debris, but didn’t know if they were still alive, Televisa reported.
Another girl reportedly communicated with her family via WhatsApp from inside the rubble.
According to Mexican newspaper El Universal, a girl named Fatima messaged her relatives via WhatsApp six hours after the building collapsed: “I’m fine, I’m with four other children trapped, help us, we’re thirsty.”
As of Thursday morning, 21 children and four adults were confirmed dead.
They make up the 230 people confirmed dead from the earthquake in central Mexico, as reported by the Associated Press.
Mexico City and its surrounding regions of Morelos, Puebla, Edoméx, Guerrero, and Oaxaca were all affected, Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s coordinator for civil protection confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
The death toll is likely to rise.