Debris from a fallen building in Mexico City. Debris from a fallen building in Mexico City.

Rescue efforts reveal a city of volunteers

Army of residents joins rescue workers in the search for earthquake victims

The solidarity of Mexico City residents with the victims of yesterday’s powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake is shining through as thousands of people have come forward to contribute to rescue efforts, turning the Mexican capital into a city of volunteers.

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Their help has been critical to the rescue of people trapped beneath rubble but 24 hours after the quake, the search for survivors continues.

While rescue efforts are laborious and in many cases complicated, there is no shortage of workers committed to getting the job done and saving as many lives as possible.

Members of the military, police officers, firefighters, Civil Protection agency workers and other rescue brigades were joined by an army of local residents who came out in force to offer help in any way they could.

The recovery work continued throughout the night.

At the site of a collapsed seven-story building in the Narvarte neighborhood, a group of around 30 young volunteers worked well into the night transporting rubble from the site to a dump truck.

Around 20 people were believed to be trapped, and some sent messages to alert authorities that they were alive. The exact location of some was detected by rescue dogs and four cranes arrived at midnight to support the efforts.

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Volunteers formed human chains at other sites to remove rubble and in one case to transport a stretcher to rescue workers.

Two sisters who contributed to the efforts at one site  told The Associated Press that “it was human nature that drives everyone to come and help others.”

Another volunteer said that he dug into a classroom at the collapsed school in Coapa.

“We saw some chairs and wooden tables,” Pedro Serrano told AP.

“. . . We started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults.”

However, despite the efforts all three had already died.

Hundreds of volunteers also arrived at other disaster sites around the city, news of their locations spreading quickly on social media.

In the neighborhoods of Roma, Condesa, del Valle, Coapa and other affected parts of Mexico City, people continued to show up throughout the afternoon and night, tools in hand and ready to work.  Hundreds more delivered essential supplies and refreshments to the official rescue workers and volunteers alike.

There have been several reports that the volunteer response has been so overwhelming that no more people are required to help at disaster sites although some are still requesting the delivery of supplies.

However, while thousands of residents are working around the clock, thousands more are mourning family members and friends who died in the most destructive earthquake to hit Mexico since the 1985 quake, which occurred 32 years earlier to the day.

Source: El Universal (sp), Independent (en)

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