CITY OF MEXICO – A powerful earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, moving up buildings, shaking the capital and sending people flooding the streets for the second time in just two weeks.
At night, nearly 140 people were killed across the country, including scores in Morelos state, near the epicenter of the earthquake, and tens here in the capital, Mexico City. But this number is expected to rise, especially because the rescuers search frantically people trapped under mounds of rubble.
The earthquake struck shortly after 1 am. about 100 miles from Mexico City. It recorded a preliminary magnitude of 7.1, causing considerable and prolonged tremors in the capital.
More than 40 buildings and other structures of the city of Mexico collapse, including at least two schools, officials said, crushing cars and trapped some people inside. Emergency workers and ordinary citizens ran to the site of destructed apartment buildings and buildings, lifting debris with their hands to try to free anyone blocked underneath.
Tuesday's earthquake hit the 32nd anniversary of another major disaster: 1985 an earthquake that killed up to 10,000 people in Mexico
. It also came less than two weeks after the most powerful earthquake in Mexico in a century, an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 that killed at least 90 people, destroyed thousands of houses and was felt by tens of millions of people.
Residents of Mexico City, after experiencing earthquake shaking, said Tuesday's tremors were much worse.
"This is like Sodom and Gomorrah, as God is angry with us," said Jorge Ortiz Diaz, 66, a government employee who witnessed relief Tuesday, his eyes full of tears. "Now is the time when solidarity begins."
In some parts of the city, the wreckage was evident immediately, including the damage to the main airport. The broken glass and the cracked edges of the buildings spread on the pavements. Almost all the residents of the capital stayed outside even after the shakes disappeared, fearing to return to their buildings.
In the neighborhood of Roma Norte, an entire office building collapsed. Rescuers fell out to save people captured in the rubble. Many of the wounded were taken to the ambulances. Others lie on the dusty ground. An unknown number remained trapped or crushed inside.
Talia Hernández, aged 28, was on the second floor of the building, taking a tattoo class. When the earthquake struck and destroyed the structure, she said, she rolled down the stairs as they collapsed. She managed to escape the building but broke her foot.
"I can not believe I'm alive," she said, crying and shocked as the doctors pulled shards of glass from her foot.
Mrs. Hernández said that other people had also managed to escape, but even the perimeter of the building remained dangerous. The strong odor of gas leaks permeated the air, as it did in the damaged parts of the city. The emergency personnel on the scene caused the spectators to grow, fearing an explosion.
The scene was interrupted, and the wounded were transported to guns and placed in ambulances. The building itself was unrecognizable – it had fallen entirely. The rubble, a brown cement, reached nearly 20 feet high. The neighboring building was partially torn in collapse as well.
Angela Cota, 52, administrative secretary who worked in the building on the first floor, said that just like her and others were fleeing, some parts of the building falling around them . They also managed to get out, but we do not know how many people remained stuck under the rubble.
Gabriela Hernández, 28, was lying on a suitcase, covered in blood and almost speechless. Her boyfriend was standing next to her, grabbing her IV bag. The blood was not his, they said; It belonged to someone who had fallen on it when the building went down. She said that she had been on the sixth floor when he arrived but managed to escape.
The scene panicked while dozens of medical workers, police and firefighters shouted to see what people needed. They were hastily trying to create a pulley system to free people still trapped near the top of the heap of rubble. Construction workers from a nearby site ran on stage and lined up to help, wearing long wooden poles to help lift pieces of the structure.
Buildings have also collapsed in the Condesa neighborhood, another fashionable neighborhood of the city built on top of soft soils and extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. Outside, thousands and thousands were in the streets, avenues and sidewalks, filling the popular neighborhood with a sense of fear.
On Laredo Street, a whole eight-storey apartment building had fallen down the road, leaving a lot of concrete piles and rubbish pouring into the street. At least 100 people stood at the top of the stack, hand-deviating it piece by piece, passing rocks and twisted steel pipes along a human chain that radiated like rays.
The sound of cries filled the air, men barking each other. Then, a call for silence – to listen to the voices of any person trapped inside, shouting for help.
Standing on the pavement, Salomón Chertorivski, secretary of economic development of Mexico City, said he believed that 10 people were trapped in the structure. The rumble of a backhoe digging into the vestiges of the building and the top of the helicopters dominated by the loudspeakers. A stretcher was transmitted to the top of the heap.
"Anyone who does not help, leave," a worker shouted at no one in particular.
Witnesses had watched in horror as people tried to escape before the building collapsed.
"It fell all right," said Moises Escobar, 25, a former college graduate. "There was a lot of smoke and dust."
Workers continued their mad anger to shoot those of the wreck. A man ran into Amsterdam Street, looking for tools.
"Saws, saws for metal – anything to cut wood and metal," he shouted.
Someone came home from a neighboring building with a hacksaw and handed over to him, and he was prepared to go to the mound.
"I work near here, but we have to help," he said. "This is our country".
This collective spirit filled the site of the disaster, while neighbors and those who passed by joined in the help.
Alexia Meza, 23, was in a neighboring building when the collapse occurred. "You can hear the screams," she said.
She ran into the crowd surrounding the fallen building, her arms crossed to collect all the debris workers who passed to clear the site.
The epicenters of the Tuesday earthquake and most important on September 7 were more than 400 miles away, but both occurred in an area where one of the terrestrial cross plates , the Cocos, slips under another, North America.
Paul Earle, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, said it was too early to tell if there was a link between the two earthquakes. Although the former was much stronger, that Tuesday was much closer to Mexico City, causing more damage to the capital.
There have also been reports of fatalities and major damage to Jojutla de Juarez, Morelos, a city about 60 miles west of the epicenter. Residents said that many buildings, including businesses and homes, had been destroyed. Electricity was cut off and water was scarce because the water tanks – many located above the ground or on the roofs – were broken or cracked.
President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Twitter that he had flew to Oaxaca at the time of the earthquake and returned immediately to Mexico City. Earlier on Tuesday, Peña Nieto attended a memorial service for people killed in the 1985 earthquake.
Emotions ran as they both waited for people to be removed from the fractured structure in the district of Roma Norte. The tumbled explosions clashed with screams for help and the sound of trucks and teams working feverishly.
Hours after the fall of the building, the emergency staff attracted Laura Rita Bernal Torres, 36, out of the rubble – alive.
She was in the same tattoo class as Mrs. Hernández, on the second floor. When it emerged, a series of applause broke out from hundreds of workers and rescuers nearby.
"I can not feel my legs," she said. A concrete block had fallen on his back.
Mrs. Bernal then began to sob, asking the fate of her classmate, Mrs. Hernández, who was trapped beside her in the building. She imagined that she was to be killed.
When a New York Times reporter told her that Ms. Hernández had actually evolved, Ms. Bernal began to cry again.
"I can I believe it," she cried. "Thank God!"
More survivors have emerged from debris Ernesto Sota Senderos, an engineer from 64 but his son was still trapped inside the building, while others with their relatives insisted that the rescuers persist.
"You can do, "shouted a man in suits as he was running next to a pickup truck." Fight for your life, please! "
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