At least 216 people were killed after an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck Mexico on Tuesday. The quake came hours after the country participated in emergency drills to mark the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 tremblor that killed thousands. Several buildings collapsed, electricity supply was cut off and mobile networks were interrupted, sending waves of panic through the streets of the country’s capital. The Mexican government has declared a state of disaster in Mexico City, reported news agency AP.
Many civilians assisted authorities in rescue operations, amid fears that the death toll will climb higher. Many people are feared trapped under the debris. The international airport in Mexico City has suspended operations.
Follow highlights on the Mexico earthquake here:
3:51 pm: Pope Francis led prayer for the victims in the quake. “In this moment of pain, I want to express my closeness and prayer to the dear Mexican people.” He urged prayers for victims, their families and rescue crews, AP reported.
3:28 pm: Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto called for a national emergency committee meeting and ordered the activation of an emergency plan, including the deployment of thousands of members of the Army, Navy and the federal police to assist in rescue and relief efforts, reports IANS.
The President said that emergency services of the Mexican Social Security Institute, the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers and the Armed Forces were standing to assist the people.
Asking people to stay cautious, he advised them to stay indoors and facilitate the deployment of emergency services. He also added that shelters have been set up for those who need them.
3:02 pm: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says it has received a request for assistance from Mexico, as reported by AP. Taking to Twitter, he said, “To @EPN and all our friends in Mexico, our hearts are with you. We offer any assistance you may need.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry says a team of approximately 60 people, mostly engineers and search-and-rescue personnel from the military’s Home Front Command, will be dispatched as soon as possible to assist in the rescue operations.
2:00 pm: The rescue work is still going on as police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dig through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings, looking for survivors of the earthquake.
1:15 pm: In case you are just joining us, an elementary school in Mexico collapsed during the earthquake, killing 21 children. Over dozens of young children are feared buried under the rubble of Enrique Rebsamen elementary school. Parents and rescue workers are working their way through the debris to pull out the children. Click here to read more.
1:00 pm: Luis Felipe Puente, the head of the nation’s civil protection agency, says the death toll has reached 217.
12.14 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind has tweeted, “Shocked to learn about earthquake in Mexico. Our sympathies with Mexican govt & people, especially with bereaved families.”
12.11 pm: Luis Felipe Puente has lowered the death toll to 216 from 248.
12.05 pm: “This is ugly, very ugly,” 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza says. She witnessed an apartment building collapse in Mexico City, and is helping rescue people from the rubble. Meanwhile, banker Gonzalez Hernandez, 55, the “walls were coming apart” while he tried to exit his office.
11.56 am: Google Mexico has initiated a “person finder” to help Mexicans trace missing people or relay information to the public about someone. There are nearly 20,000 records uploaded with Google currently.
11.50 am: Mexico, which is prone to earthquakes, had suffered an 8.1-magnitude quake earlier this month that had left at least 90 dead. With Mexico City being one of the most densely populated cities across the world — there are over 20 million people living in the city — it is feared that the toll in Tuesday’s earthquake will rise.
11.42 am: Death toll rises to 248, reports Reuters.
11.32 am: The epicentre of the quake was near Puebla state town of Raboso, around 123 kilometres southeast of Mexico City, according to the US Geological Survey.
11.23 am: The toll has risen to 226. Luis Felipe Puente, the head of the nation’s civil protection agency confirmed the toll in a post on Twitter. More than half the number is reported from the capital, according to AP.
11.19 am: The United Nations has offered assistance to Mexico following the quake. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed sadness by the loss of life and destruction.
11.08 am: In Mexico City, 36 people have been reportedly killed. In the state of Mexico, at least nine people were killed, while 29 deaths were reported from Puebla. The highest death toll was in Morelos state, south of Mexico City, where 64 deaths were reported, Luis Felipe Puente the head of the nation’s civil protection agency said, reported Reuters.
11.02 am: At least 21 children have been killed after an elementary school collapsed in Mexico City, a government official confirmed. “We have a report of 25 dead, among them 21 children and four adults,” Mexican Undersecretary of Education Javier Trevino was quoted as saying by AFP. The school is Enrique Rebsamen Elementary School.
10.53 am: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to offer support to the people of Mexico. He said, “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”
10.45 am: Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto has appealed to people to remain calm in the aftermath of the earthquake. In a video message on Tuesday, he said, “The priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people.”
(With inputs from agencies)