Mexico’s Rescue Efforts Continue As Quake Toll Tops 270
Neighbors and rescuers in Mexico continue to search for people trapped under buildings.
Rescuers in Mexico continue to work to save possible survivors after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico, killing at least 273 people and toppling over 40 buildings.
Around 30 children are thought to be trapped in the rubble of Enrique Rebsamen School in Villa Coapa, south of the capital.
“We have a lot of hope that some will still be rescued,” said David Porras, one of scores of volunteers helping the search at the school for children aged 3 to 14.
At least 19 children and six adults were killed at the school.
According to the government officials, at least 100 people in Mexico City have been saved since Wednesday.
The earthquake has left 115 people dead in Mexico City, 69 in Morelos, south of Mexico City, 43 in Puebla where the epicenter of the quake struck, 13 in the state of Mexico, four in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca, according to Luis Felipe Puente, coordinator of Civil Protection of the Interior Ministry.
Nearly 2,000 people have been injured in the capital.
In the aftermath of the devastation, volunteer brigades have also sprung up across Mexico City to provide assistance and organize aid for those who have been stranded by the quake.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto paid tribute to these volunteers in his latest televised address on Wednesday night.
“I want to recognize the volunteers who are helping unconditionally … If there is something that distinguishes Mexico it is our generosity and our fraternity,” he said.
According to the National Defense Ministry, 8,000 members of the Armed Forces have also been sent help with the rescue efforts.
A team of Venezuelan rescue workers has arrived to provide support. Mexico is also expected to receive technical aid from Spain, Japan and the United States.
Andres Lopez Obrador, the leader of the left-wing Morena party, promised to donate 20 percent of the party’s budget to the relief efforts.
Officials say there are 53 shelters across the country, including 30 in Mexico City.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 44 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed.
The country’s public education secretary, Aurelio Nuño, confirmed five deaths and 40 injuries at the Tecnologico de Monterrey university.
School and university classes have been canceled in Puebla, Mexico City, Guerrero and Veracruz. The Mexican football league has suspended upcoming matches. Cultural events have also been canceled across the capital.
Messages of solidarity flooded social media in the aftermath of the earthquake.
The Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, said: “Mexico can depend on Venezuela in this moment of difficulties and tragedies … this is what solidarity is for, this is why we must be united.”
Lenin Moreno, the president of Ecuador, said in a message on Twitter: “All our solidarity with the Mexican people and the president.”
After being criticized for not offering support to Mexico after the earlier 8.1-earthquake, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.” The city and its surrounding area are home to about 20 million people.
According to the National Seismological Service, the 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit 5 miles southeast of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla at a depth of 32 miles.
The quake hit only hours after many people participated in earthquake drills on the anniversary of the devastating quake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985.
The disaster comes just days after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake left 98 people dead and thousands more injured and displaced in the southwestern state of Oaxaca, and the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico that killed thousands and hit Michoacan with an 8.1 magnitude.
Several Dead in Puerto Rico and Total Loss of Power As Hurricane Maria Moves On
Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico as the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory in almost 90 years, leaving at least nine people dead and causing widespread flooding.The punishing winds have thrown the U.S. territory in utter chaos and devastation.“Irma gave us a break, but Maria destroyed us,” Edwin Serrano, a construction worker in Old San Juan, told the New York Times.
With the territory in ruins, power across the Caribbean island have been knocked out.
Ricardo Ramos, the chief executive of the government-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, told the CNN, the island’s main power grid is completely destroyed.
Over 95 percent of the island’s wireless cell sites were out of service, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, told the New York Times.
The U.S. President Donald Trump has declared the island as a disaster area, making it eligible for increased recovery funding.
“Puerto Rico was absolutely obliterated,” the U.S. president said while in a meeting with the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko in New York.
“Their electrical grid is destroyed,” Trump added. “It wasn’t in good shape to start off with. But their electrical grid is totally destroyed. And so many other things.”
In an interview with San Juan-based WAPA radio, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello said the opening of the ports is a priority so that aid shipment of first aid materials, food, generators, etc, can reach the people on the island.
Officials have also announced that it could take several months before Puerto Ricans get electricity back, the National Hurricane Center, NHC, said.
After devastating Dominica and Guadeloupe and battering St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm.
The island’s capital, San Juan, was hit with sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour beginning at 6 a.m. local time, according to the NHC.
Carmen González, 58, a resident of the Condado area, a tourist district of the capital San Juan, told the New York Times, “The country is paralyzed — it’s like a war zone,” Ms. González wrote in Spanish in a text message. “This has been devastating. The whole of Condado is full of obstacles.”
A Category 4 hurricane hasn’t hit Puerto Rico since 1932.
Fifteen people are known to have been killed in Dominica, where Hurricane Maria first made landfall, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said.
Two people died in the French territory of Guadeloupe.
Dominica’s PM Fears that at Least 40 Have Died From Hurricane Maria’s Destruction
Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, fears that at least 40 people have died on the island following the unprecidented devastation caused by a direct hit from category 5 Hurricane Maria.
Prime Minister Skerrit told TeleSUR that he had finished travelling through the country to see the extent of the damage, and that it seems likely there will be at least 40 deaths. This number has yet to be officially confirmed, as damage and casualties are still being assessed.
Skerrit also thanked Venezuela for sending aid to the island amid the natural disaster.
“Venezuela is again a first responder with hurricane help to its Caribbean neighbors, this time Dominica,” he said. Skerrit added that Venezuela is sending two armed force planes landing relief supplies and dozens of volunteers in Saint Lucia to be blown across to Dominica by helicopter.
“Similar help was earlier given to Cuba and offered too to Mexico immediately after each of the two earthquakes this month.”
Dominica has called a state of emergency, imposed a curfew, and is calling for the international communities’ help.
Food, water, medical supplies, household items and communications equipment are needed immediately.
The nation’s Principal Advisor Hartley Henry wrote on his Facebook page, “The country is in a daze — no electricity, no running water — as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities…The island has been devastated.”
A CNN crew flew over the island, reporting that even the island’s once lush rainforests had all but disappeared, leveled under the force of the wind.
More aerial footage showing the scale of the destruction has been released by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, CDEMA.
Henry said communication remains a major problem and people “who walked 10 and 15 miles towards the city of Roseau from various outer districts report total destruction of homes, some roadways, and crops.”
A “state of emergency has been declared in Dominica. Curfew will be enforced. Curfew hours will be decided,” said Dr. Didacus Jules, the Director General of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS.
“The country needs the support and continued help and prayers of all,” Henry said, adding that all public facilities are being used as shelters.