Desperate rescue workers scrabbled through rubble in a floodlit search on Wednesday for dozens of children feared buried beneath a Mexico City school, one of hundreds of buildings wrecked by the country’s most lethal earthquake in a generation.
The magnitude 7.1 shock killed at least 225 people, nearly half of them in the capital, 32 years to the day after a devastating 1985 quake.
The head of Mexico’s national civil defense agency, Luis Felipe Puente, posted a tweet saying 94 are known dead in Mexico City, 71 in Morelos state, 43 in Puebla, 12 in the State of Mexico, four in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.
The disaster came as Mexico still reels from a powerful tremor that killed nearly 100 people in the south of the country less than two weeks ago.
Among the twisted concrete and steel ruin of the Enrique Rebsamen school, soldiers and firefighters found at least 22 dead children and four adults, while another 30 children and 12 adults were missing, President Enrique Pena Nieto said.
There were chaotic scenes at the school as bulldozers moved rubble under the buzz and glare of floodlights powered by generators, with parents clinging to hope their children had survived.
Mexico’s civil defence agency has said 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.
Twenty-two bodies were pulled from rubble at a school in Mexico City, while rescuers searched for a further 38 missing people at the site.
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.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit central Mexico on Tuesday causing buildings collapsed in plumes of dust in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states.
Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone as high rises across the city swayed.
Hours after the earthquake, 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.
The earthquake is the deadliest in Mexico since a 1985 tremor on the same date killed thousands. It came less than two weeks after another powerful earthquake caused 90 deaths in the country’s south.
The federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City, freeing up emergency funds. President Enrique Pena Nieto said he had ordered all hospitals to open their doors to the injured.
Mr Mancera said 50 to 60 people were rescued alive by citizens and emergency workers in the capital. Authorities said at least 70 people in the capital had been hospitalised for injuries.
The federal interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said authorities had reports of people possibly still being trapped in collapsed buildings. He said search efforts were slow because of the fragility of rubble.
“It has to be done very carefully,” he said. And “time is against us.”