AS IT HAPPENED: Mexico quake death toll surges to over 200

2017-09-20 08:15

A powerful earthquake has shaken central Mexico, collapsing buildings in plumes of dust and killing at least 217 people.


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Last Updated at 23:58
20 Sep 13:17
A man is rescued from a collapsed building in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. (AP)

20 Sep 12:37

Dust-covered and exhausted from digging, 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza said two people were pulled alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in the Roma Sur neighbourhood during a three-hour period.

"When we saw this, we came to help," he said, gesturing at the destruction. "This is ugly, very ugly."

Blocks away, Alma Gonzalez was in her fourth-floor apartment when the quake collapsed the ground floor of her building, leaving her no way out.

She was terrified until her neighbors mounted a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out a side window.

20 Sep 12:07
A hardware store gives away tools to assist those rescuing trapped victims.

20 Sep 12:05

Pope Francis has led tens of thousands of people in prayer for the victims of the Mexico earthquake.Francis acknowledged many Mexican pilgrims were on hand for his weekly general audience Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.

Speaking to them in Spanish, Francis add-libbed a prayer, saying: "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 crews.

20 Sep 11:42

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says it has received a request for assistance from Mexico following a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, and that it will be dispatching a search-and-rescue team as soon as possible.

Israel's Foreign Ministry says a team of approximately 60 people, mostly engineers and search-and-rescue personnel from the military's Home Front Command, will be dispatched Wednesday afternoon to assist in the aftermath of the earthquake, which is known to have killed almost 250 people.

20 Sep 11:42

The head of Mexico's national Civil Defense Agency has lowered the number of confirmed dead in Tuesday's earthquake to 217.

Luis Felipe Puente says on his Twitter account that at least 86 people died in Mexico City, 71 in Morelos state, 43 in Puebla, 12 in the State of Mexico, four in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

He gave no explanation for the lower toll after earlier reporting 248 confirmed deaths.

20 Sep 11:02

21 schoolchildren among more than 200 dead in powerful Mexico quake

Mexico City - At least 216 people were killed when a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday, including 21 children crushed beneath an elementary school that was reduced to rubble. 

20 Sep 10:46
A car crashed by debris from a damaged building after a quake rattled Mexico City. (AFP)

20 Sep 10:43

Medics have set up makeshift field hospitals in the streets, treating people for broken limbs and crush injuries.

Many people lay on stretchers, with medics holding strips of cardboard boxes over victims' heads to protect them from the sun.

20 Sep 10:20

20 Sep 10:16

Where a six-story office building collapsed in Mexico City, sisters Cristina and Victoria Lopez Torres formed part of a human chain passing bottled water.

"I think it's human nature that drives everyone to come and help others," Cristina Lopez said.

"We are young. We didn't live through '85. But we know that it's important to come out into the streets to help," said her sister Victoria.

20 Sep 09:48

One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.

A mix of neighborhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school's rubble. The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received Whatsapp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed.

The rescue effort was punctuated by cries of "Quiet!" so searchers could listen for any faint calls for help.

20 Sep 09:45

Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans are digging frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings, looking for survivors of Mexico's deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities climbed to 248.

Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, Tuesday's magnitude-7.1 quake 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.

20 Sep 09:17

20 Sep 08:56
The death toll from a powerful earthquake that rocked Mexico on Tuesday has surged to 248 people, the head of the national disaster response agency, Luis Felipe Puente, said on Twitter.

20 Sep 08:28
Eduardo Verdugo / AP

20 Sep 08:23

20 Sep 08:22

President Enrique Pena Nieto said in the message issued late Tuesday night that many people will need help, but the initial focus has to be on finding people trapped in wrecked buildings.

In his words, "The priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people."

20 Sep 08:21

20 Sep 08:20

20 Sep 08:17

One of the most gut-wrenching scenes was at the Enrique Rebsamen primary school on Mexico City's south side, whose three floors collapsed into one, trapping students and teachers inside.

Twenty-one children and four adults were killed, said deputy education minister Javier Trevino.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who rushed to the site, warned the death toll could rise."There are 30 children and eight adults still missing. Rescue operations are ongoing," he told journalists.

20 Sep 08:16
The Philippines says the powerful earthquake that rocked central Mexico has badly damaged its embassy in Mexico City, but the staffers were unhurt and there are so far no reports of casualty among the 60 members of the Filipino community in Mexico City.

20 Sep 08:15

PICS: Scramble as deadly quake splits road outside Mexico City Airport

(Twitter) Mexico City - Mexico City International Airport (MEX) suspended operation for several hours on Tuesday after a deadly 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the the country's capital. 

20 Sep 08:15

Mexico's civil defense agency says the death toll has risen to 226 from Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake that knocked down dozens of buildings in Mexico City and nearby states.

The official Twitter feed of agency head Luis Felipe Puente said early Wednesday that 117 people were confirmed dead in Mexico City, and 55 died in Morelos state, which is just south of the capital.

It said 39 are dead in Puebla state, where the quake was centered.

Twelve people died in Mexico State, which surrounds the capital, and three in Guerrero state. 

20 Sep 08:15

20 Sep 08:15

UPDATE: Over 200 killed as 7.1 magnitude quake destroys buildings in Mexico

Mexico City - A powerful earthquake shook central Mexico on Tuesday, collapsing buildings in plumes of dust and killing at least 226 people. 

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