Rescue crews and ordinary citizens searched through rubble for survivors as night fell on Tuesday on battered cities in central Mexico, where the death toll from a major earthquake grew to nearly 250.
According to Press TV, the magnitude 7.1 quake toppled dozens of buildings, broke gas mains, and sparked fires less than two weeks after another powerful quake killed at least 98 people in southern Mexico. It also hit just hours after emergency drills marked the anniversary of a temblor that killed thousands in 1985.
Millions of people fled into the streets, where they weathered the violent shaking and desperately sought word about the welfare of family and friends.
Emergency personnel in Mexico City, a metropolitan region of about 20 million people, searched frantically with picks and shovels for survivors beneath the rubble of what the sprawling city’s mayor calculated to be as many as 44 collapsed buildings, including at least one primary school.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Tuesday more than 20 children and two adults had been found dead at the school, Colegio Enrique Rebsamen, in the neighborhood of Coapa. Another 30 children and 12 adults were missing, he said.
Emergency personnel and equipment were being deployed across affected areas so that “throughout the night we can continue aiding the population and eventually find people beneath the rubble,” Pena Nieto said in a video posted on Facebook earlier on Tuesday evening.
Rescue workers and soldiers toiled around collapsed buildings where heat-sensing equipment suggested survivors could still be trapped. Bystanders joined in where they could, clearing debris with their bare hands or whatever tools they could find nearby.
Much of the country was also shaken when an 8.1-magnitude quake, the strongest in more than eight decades, struck southern Mexico on Sept. 7, killing at least 98 people.