Battling grinding fatigue and mountains of rubble, rescuers Thursday raced against time in the search for survivors of Mexico’s earthquake, keenly aware of ever-dwindling odds of finding people alive beneath the debris.
The death toll climbed to at least 245 in the wake of Tuesday’s devastating magnitude 7.1 temblor, including dozens of schoolchildren, and the confirmed fatality count was expected to climb as more bodies were recovered.
Approaching the 48-hour mark since the quake, rescuers at sites across the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City used search dogs and calls to the cellphones of those trapped inside to try to pinpoint the location of those who had survived two full nights under the remains of damaged buildings.
Rescuers believed they were getting closer to pinpointing the location of a 12-year-old girl trapped beneath the debris of a collapsed elementary school in the capital that has come to be seen as a crucible of the country’s suffering. Wrenching scenes have unfolded night and day outside the Enrique Rebsamen school since its collapse, with anguished parents awaiting word of any discovery.
Early Thursday, the Mexican navy said in a statement that the body of a 58-year-old woman had been recovered from the school’s ruins, and appealed for information about her identity.
An elite team of disaster experts, including an urban search-and-rescue team from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, landed Thursday morning in Mexico City to aid in relief efforts.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, reported the arrival of its Disaster Assistance Response Team, along with more than 60 firefighters and five highly trained dogs.