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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Mexico in three-day countdown to search for earthquake survivors

By By Daniel Trotta, Reuters | Sep 26, 2017

MEXICO CITY — Rescuers are unlikely to find any more survivors of Mexico’s earthquake still buried in the ruins and will cease operations to find them at the end of Thursday, the emergency services chief said.

Tuesday marks one week since the 7.1 magnitude quake struck around lunchtime, killing 331 people, damaging 11,000 homes and leading to a outpouring of civilian volunteers to aid and comfort the victims.

Luis Felipe Puente, coordinator of Mexico’s Civil Protection agency, told Reuters that rescuers would continue hand-picking through the debris at four sites until Thursday.

“I can say that at this time it would be unlikely to find someone alive,” Puente said, considering that specially trained dogs have yet to pick up the scent of survivors.

Forty-three people were still missing, including 40 who may have been trapped beneath a collapsed office building in the Roma district of Mexico City, Puente said. One person was believed missing at each of three other sites in the capital.

At the office building, relatives protested overnight, increasingly angry with the slow progress recovering their loved ones and an alleged lack of information.

Asked how much longer search and rescue operations would continue, the official responded, “As of today (Monday), we have agreed to another 72 hours.”

The week began with signs that Mexico was resuming its routine as the streets filled with traffic and more than 44,000 schools in six states reopened.

But in the capital city, only 676 of the more than 8,000 public and private schools resumed classes.

The quake, coming exactly 32 years after a 1985 earthquake killed some 10,000 people, delivered a massive psychological blow that specialists say will take time to overcome.

Responders from 18 countries came to Mexico to help, but with the search for survivors down to four sites most of them had gone home, with Americans and Israelis among the few to remain, Puente said.

International aid is now focused on humanitarian needs, with China providing large numbers of fixtures for temporary shelters for the homeless.

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