MEXICO CITY – All children have been accounted for in a Mexican elementary school that was the target of search and rescue efforts, Mexico’s sub-secretary of Navy said Thursday.
Angel Enrique Sarmiento said that there are possible indications that one person may still be alive inside Colegio Enrique Rebsamen.
“We have done an official count along with the directors of the school, and we are certain that all the children either passed away, are in local hospitals, or are safe and sound in their houses.”
Rescuers in Mexico City had pushed through debris early Thursday at an elementary school in an urgent attempt to reach a 12-year-girl, two days after a powerful earthquake trapped her and killed at least 250 people across central Mexico.
The rescue attempt at the capital’s Colegio Enrique Rebsamen came amid concerns the structure could buckle further. It was one of many searches underway at buildings that collapsed in the region after Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 quake, the country’s second major temblor in less than two weeks.
At the school, officials say 26 bodies — including those of 21 children — have been found and 11 people have been rescued. But a search for survivors intensified Wednesday when rescuers made contact with the 12-year-old girl and temperature readings suggested two others might be alive inside, CNN affiliate Foro TV reported.
Rescuers have been hauling chunks of lumber and concrete from the debris as others tried to shore up parts of the collapsed structure with beams.
Crews are continuing their attempt to reach the remaining people through two routes, he said. Soldiers, rescuers and medics worked relentlessly, including some who said they had been there for 36 hours before being relieved.
Intermittently Thursday, workers held up their fists — a gesture for silence so they could listen for signs of life. New discoveries appeared to be minimal. One body — that of a woman — had also been removed from the rubble Thursday.
Shortly after a cloud of dust flew up from the site early Thursday, rescuer Alberto Salinas made a public plea on Foro TV, asking for beams, pulleys and other materials to shore up the structure. The building’s remains must be reinforced to prevent further collapse, Vergara said.
Before she was rescued details of the rescuers’ communications with the girl weren’t immediately available, and seemingly contradictory information emerged. Vergara said the girl’s precise location wasn’t known, but Foro TV earlier reported that rescue teams had given her oxygen and water.
Families of students who died there, meanwhile, were making funeral arrangements Thursday — and sharing those plans with each other through a WhatsApp messaging group they had joined before the earthquake, said Marisol Alexander, a woman who lives near the school.