Hopes of finding quake survivors all but vanish in Mexico

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake that shook southern Mexico spreads fear in the capital and frustrates rescuers, some of whom were forced to suspend the search for survivors of an earlier, bigger tremor.
Mexican and international rescue teams searching for survivors in the Roma neighbourhood in Mexico City on Saturday. Since Friday, only bodies have been recovered. The latest death toll stands at 307.
Mexican and international rescue teams searching for survivors in the Roma neighbourhood in Mexico City on Saturday. Since Friday, only bodies have been recovered. The latest death toll stands at 307.PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY • Hopes of finding more survivors after Mexico City's devastating quake dwindled to virtually nothing yesterday, five days after the 7.1 tremor rocked the heart of the mega city, toppling dozens of buildings and killing more than 300 people.

Yet the authorities were still listening to anguished families who insisted that painstaking rescue operations continue at a handful of sites.

Foreign teams from Japan, the US and elsewhere were working with dogs and high-tech gear to try to detect signs of life under the rubble.

In the first three days, 69 people were pulled out alive. But, since last Friday, only bodies have been recovered. The latest death toll stands at 307, of which more than half - 169 fatalities - were in Mexico City.

The quake may have left some 30,000 badly damaged homes in the adjacent states of Morelos and Puebla and economic losses of US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) to US$8 billion.

Aftershocks on Saturday spread fear among Mexico's traumatised population, and a plume of ash spewed from the Popocatepetl volcano in another reminder of the country's volatile geology.

And, yesterday, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck off the country's west coast, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

The tremors - possibly aftershocks from a massive 8.2-magnitude quake that hit southern Mexico two weeks ago - forced rescue workers in the capital to pause their efforts for a couple of hours.

 
 

No citizen has forgotten a 1985 earthquake that killed 10,000 people in Mexico City. But families were hoping against hope to see "miracle" rescues.

"Oh God, have mercy," exclaimed one Mexico City resident, Ms Teresa Martinez, 74, who stood in the street with other women, all crying.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Hopes of finding quake survivors all but vanish in Mexico'. Print Edition | Subscribe