Enrique Rébsamen school, where rescuers search for children. Enrique Rébsamen school, where rescuers search for children.

School search still on after contact with girl

Rescue workers spoke with 12-year-old but have been unable to reach her

The search for survivors of Tuesday’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake is continuing at the Enrique Rébsamen school in southern Mexico City where a 12-year-old girl identified as Frida Sofía and up to four other students could still be alive under the rubble.

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Through infrared and thermal testing, rescue workers determined last night that five children had survived the powerful quake that brought one wing of the school to the ground.

Frida Sofía and two of her classmates are trapped under a granite table, which rescuers believe saved their lives and is giving them some protection from other rubble. However, an entire collapsed floor slab and the instability of the site are complicating rescue efforts.

Frida was first detected yesterday morning and rescue workers subsequently managed to communicate with her.

“We’re coming for you, be calm, don’t despair, are you okay? Is there anybody else with you?” they shouted.

“I’m thirsty, I’m okay. Don’t be long,” she reportedly replied.

She also informed them that there were two other students close by although she didn’t know whether they were alive.

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Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño said rescue workers managed to get a hose to the trapped girl so that she could drink some much-needed water. An oxygen source was also able to reach her, he said.

Another two children were also detected by the testing but they are trapped deeper in the rubble, farther away from the rescuers.

At frequent intervals rescue workers called for complete silence with the hope that they would be able to detect the presence of survivors and more accurately establish their location.

Late last night, officials confirmed that Frida was still alive but they could not be certain about the others. Still, rescue efforts will continue throughout the day with the hope that survivors rather than corpses will be pulled from the wreckage.

Nuño also said that authorities have been unable to locate the parents of Frida and urged any family member of the girl to make contact with authorities.

The military also appealed this morning to parents of the missing children to come to the school to provide information about their children. Perplexingly, since rescue efforts began there has been no contact with some parents of missing children.

The body of a 58-year-old woman was recovered at the site early this morning bringing the death toll at the school to 21 children and five adults, a lower tally than previously reported.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp)

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