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More than 200 die in strong Central Mexico quake

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A strong earthquake has struck central Mexico, killing more than 200 people and toppling dozens of buildings in the capital, Mexico City.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said more than 20 children had died and 30 were missing after a school collapsed.

The 7.1 magnitude quake also caused major damage in neighbouring states.

The tremor struck shortly after many people had taken part in an earthquake drill, exactly 32 years after a quake killed thousands in Mexico City.

The country is prone to earthquakes and earlier this month an 8.1 magnitude tremor in the south left at least 90 people dead.

The epicentre of the latest quake was near Atencingo in Puebla state, about 120km (75 miles) from Mexico City, with a depth of 51km, the US Geological Survey said.

The prolonged tremor hit at 13:14 local time (18:14 GMT) and sent thousands of residents into the streets.

An earlier death toll of nearly 250 was lowered to 216 by the country’s national co-ordinator for civil protection:

  • Morelos state: 71 dead
  • Puebla state: 43 dead
  • Mexico City: 86 dead
  • Mexico state: 12 dead
  • Guerrero: 3 dead
  • Oaxaca: 1

President Peña Nieto said more than 20 children and two adults had been found dead at the collapsed Enrique Rébsamen elementary school in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district. He said another 30 children and eight adults were missing.

Emergency workers, aided by military personnel and volunteers, have been working through the night in the search for people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

At the Enrique Rébsamen school, three people were rescued at about midnight, Reuters news agency reports, adding that one child trapped under the debris was saved after oxygen was supplied through a tube.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) reported that at least 209 schools had been affected by the quake, 15 of which have suffered severe damage.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told TV network Televisa that buildings at 44 locations had collapsed or were badly damaged. These are said to include a six-storey blocks of flats, a supermarket and a factory.

About two million people in the capital were without electricity and phone lines were down. Officials warned residents not to smoke on the streets as gas mains could have been ruptured.

In a televised address, the president said an emergency had been declared for the affected areas and the military had been drafted in to help with the response.

He also urged residents whose properties were structurally sound to remain in their homes where possible to allow emergency services and those helping with rescue efforts to clear the streets.

Across Mexico City, teams of rescue workers and volunteers clawed through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands.

 

US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his support following the “devastating news”.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis, in New York for the UN General Assembly, expressed his “solidarity” with the Mexican people.

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