A magnitude-7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon (local time), killing at least 138 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.
Scores of buildings collapsed into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings collapsed at 44 places in the capital alone.
The quake is the deadliest in Mexico since a 1985 quake on the same date killed thousands. It came less than two weeks after another powerful quake left 90 dead in the country’s south.
Mancera said at least 30 had died in Mexico City, and officials in Morelos, just to the south, said 54 had died there.
At least 26 others died in Puebla state, according to state disaster prevention chief Carlos Valdes. Governor Alfredo del Mazo said at least nine had died in the State of Mexico, which also borders the capital. Mancera said that 50 to 60 people were rescued alive by citizens and emergency workers. At one site, reporters saw onlookers cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble. Rescuers immediately called for silence so that they could listen for others who might be trapped.
Mariana Morales, a 26-year-old nutritionist, was among many who spontaneously participated in rescue efforts. She wore a paper face mask and her hands were still dusty from having joined a rescue brigade to clear rubble from a building that fell in a cloud of dust before her eyes, about 15 minutes after the quake.