Searchers dig as Mexico City reopens just 1% of schools
MEXICO CITY (AP):
As many as 360 buildings and homes are in danger of collapse or have sustained major damage in Mexico City nearly a week after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake completely collapsed 38 structures.
The risk of delayed collapse is real: The cupola of Our Lady of Angels Church, damaged and cracked by the September 19 quake, split in half and crashed to the ground Sunday evening. There were no injuries.
Nervous neighbours continued calling in police yesterday as new cracks appeared in their apartment blocks or existing ones worsened, even as the city struggled to get back to normality.
Officials said they had cleared only 103 of Mexico City's nearly 9,000 schools to reopening yesterday and said it could be two to three weeks before all were declared safe leaving hundreds of thousands of children idle.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said at least seven schools were among the buildings thought to be at risk of tumbling.
At several points in the city, employees gathered on sidewalks in front of their workplaces yesterday refusing to enter, because they feared their buildings could collapse.
"We are afraid for our own safety," said Maribel Martinez Ramirez, an employee of a government development agency who, along with dozens of co-workers, refused to enter their workplace yesterday. "The building is leaning, there are cracks."
Mancera said 360 "red level" buildings would either have to be demolished or receive major structural reinforcement. Another 1,136 were reparable, and 8,030 of the buildings inspected so far were found to be habitable.
Search teams were still digging through dangerous piles of rubble yesterday, hoping against the odds to find survivors. The city has accounted for 186 of the 325 dead nationwide.
On Sunday, marines retrieved what is believed to be the last body from a collapsed school on the city's south side where a total of 26 people seven adults and 19 children were crushed by a fallen wing of the school.
As darkness fell Sunday, prayers were held by families of the missing who had gathered near the collapsed office building near downtown.