Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Hopes of finding Mexico quake survivors dwindle

Published:Monday | September 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
An aerial view of remains of the Unidad Habitacional Tlalpan 1-C building in the Conjunto Urbano Tlalpan neighbourhood of Mexico City, on Saturday. A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday morning, causing street signs around the collapsed building to sway and rescue workers to evacuate the site temporarily.

MEXICO CITY (AP):

Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

Among the families of the missing, there are periodic moments when spirits lift.

A flurry of activity, or relatives are summoned to the search site, raising hopes that someone has been found.

But despair deepens when the work slows or even stops, when rain or an aftershock threatens the stability of the tottering pile, and as day after day passes without their loved ones emerging.

For the family of Adrian Moreno, a missing 26-year-old human resources worker at an accounting firm, the emotional roller coaster is getting to be too much. Moreno's mother has a look of anguish and has largely stopped being able to speak. His boyfriend, Dario Hernandez, also looks lost, his gaze tear-stained and unfocused.

"Just hearing the earthquake alarm was horrible," Hernandez said of a siren that rang during a 6.1 quake Saturday that was an aftershock of an even earlier and bigger temblor.

"Something moves and ..., " he said, his voice trailing away at the unspeakable thought that the whole pile could suddenly collapse. "There is a lot of nervousness, a lot of desperation. ... . This is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life, the worst."

A total of 38 buildings in the Mexican capital mostly apartment blocks or office buildings collapsed in the September 19 earthquake, and the first days saw a dramatic scramble with picks, shovels and bare hands to reach survivors.