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Mexico Watches Frantic Effort to Rescue Girl From Quake-Hit School

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Rescue personnel carried out a painstaking rescue effort on Wednesday at the Enrique Rebsámen primary school in Mexico City, watched by parents of its pupils. Credit Marco Ugarte/Associated Press

Emergency workers were frantically trying to rescue a girl who was believed to be alive in the ruins of a school in Mexico City that collapsed in the devastating earthquake on Tuesday that left more than 200 people dead.

The rescue effort, broadcast live on Mexican television into Thursday morning, came amid signs that the girl was alive and was speaking to rescue workers who were trying to reach her.

At least 30 children were killed in the collapse of the Enrique Rébsamen school, and by Wednesday night, at least five people were known to be missing, including the girl.

Dr. Alfredo Vega, who was working with the emergency rescue workers, said that the girl was believed to be between concrete slabs, The Associated Press reported. “She is alive, and she is telling us that there are five more children alive” in the same space, The A.P. quoted him as saying. The identity of the girl has not been publicly confirmed.

The parents of children at the school had descended on the site, some climbing trees and playground equipment to get a better view of the operation, in hopes that their children would be pulled alive from the rubble.

Aurelio Nuño, Mexico’s education secretary, confirmed that the girl was alive, but said that he did not know the fate of the other children.

But even as rescuers and family members held out hope that they would find survivors, the remains of those killed in the collapse were still being recovered. The body of a 58-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble around 5:30 Thursday morning. Her name has not been released, but government officials said she had worked at the school.

Officials have opted not to use heavy equipment to remove debris as long as there is still hope of pulling out survivors, and as an added precaution, rescuers were using wooden scaffolding to prevent rubble from falling onto the site of the collapse.

The government, in a statement released Thursday, appealed to family members of the missing to come forward with descriptions of the children and what clothing they were wearing at the time of the collapse.

“The actions of search and rescue will continue until all possibilities are exhausted, but it is vital to make contact with the parents or other relatives of the presumed missing children,” the statement said. “It has been approximately 12 hours and no family member has come close to providing such information.”

Source: NYT > World

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