Hours after a magnitude 7.1 quake struck the Mexico City area Tuesday, rescue workers were still clawing through the wreckage of a primary school that partly collapsed in the city’s south looking for any children who might be trapped.
Some relatives said they had received Whatsapp message from two girls inside. President Enrique Pena Nieto visited the school late Tuesday and said 22 bodies had been recovered there, two of them adults. He added in comments broadcast online by Financiero TV that 30 children and eight adults were still reported missing.
The quake, which has killed at least 149 people, was the deadliest in Mexico since a 1985 quake on the same date killed thousands. It came less than two weeks after another powerful quake caused 90 deaths in the country’s south.
The federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City, freeing up emergency funds. President Pena Nieto said he had ordered all hospitals to open their doors to the injured.
The epicenter was near the town of Raboso, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
— Luis Felipe Puente (@LUISFELIPE_P) September 20, 2017
Mexico City’s mayor said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone, and that 50 to 60 people were rescued. Seventy people who were in the capital were hospitalized, authorities said.
Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, said she was in a taxi when the quake struck. She said she saw glass bursting out of the windows of some buildings. She was anxiously trying to locate her children, whom she had left in the care of her disabled mother.
— Alberto Serrano L. (@Serrano_Lorence) September 19, 2017
Gala Dluzhynska, who was taking a class in Mexico City’s Roma district, said the building she was in didn’t have “any stairs anymore, only rocks,” after the quake hit.
In Mexico City pictures fell from walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over. Some people dove for cover under desks.
?? Momento exacto en el que un PERRO es RESCATADO en el edifico Álvaro Obregón 286
— DIARIO RÉCORD (@record_mexico) September 19, 2017
Mexico City’s international airport tweeted that it had suspended operations following the quake, although it was not immediately clear how many flights have been affected.
President Donald Trump tweeted “God bless the people of Mexico City” after news of the earthquake broke, and added that the U.S. was “with you and will be there for you.”
God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) September 19, 2017
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said the U.S. stands “ready to provide assistance should our neighbors request our help.” It added that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is also ready to provide assistance to U.S. citizens who were possibly affected by the quake.
Earlier in the day buildings across the city held preparation drills on the anniversary of a 1985 quake. That 8.1 quake, which the Los Angeles Times reported lasted between three to five minutes, collapsed hundreds of buildings, left an estimated 10,000 people dead, and left tens of thousands injured or homeless.