The death toll continues to rise following a massive 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico City Tuesday afternoon, collapsing buildings, killing at least 216 people and trapping an unknown number of others in the wreckage.
The head of Mexico’s civil defense agency, Luis Felipe Puente, said on Twitter “At the moment, there are 216 reported deaths – 86 in Mexico City, 71 in Morelos, 43 in Puebla, 12 in the State of Mexico, three in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca” .
The epicenter of the quake was in Puebla, 123 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.
President Enrique Pena Nieto visited a school in the capital city that collapsed, one of dozens of buildings that fell due to the shaking. Mexico’s education secretary, Aurelio Nuno, said 25 people were killed at the school, while 11 others were rescued and 30 were missing.
Pena Nieto also issued a video address saying the government’s priorities are rescuing those trapped by the earthquake and getting medical aid to the injured. He expressed condolences to those who lost a loved one and said Mexico shares in their grief.
Local media reported extensive damage, power outages and fires throughout Mexico City, one of the most populous urban areas in the world.
Civilians as well as search and rescue teams went to work trying to find survivors using heavy machinery and bare hands to remove piles of rubble.
U.S. President Donald Trump sent a message of support for Mexico from New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.
Trump tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”
Mexican authorities suspended operations at the international airport and closed schools.
The quake hit less than two weeks after another earthquake killed more than 90 people in the country’s south. The U.S. Geological Survey said the two quakes appeared to be unrelated.
USGS seismologist Paul Earle said the two epicenters are 650 kilometers apart and most aftershocks are within 100 kilometers.
Tuesday’s earthquake was centered near the town of Raboso, in Puebla state. It hit at 1:14 p.m., local time. Puebla Governor Tony Gali reported there also was significant damage in the nearby city of Cholula, where collapsed church steeples fell into the streets.
The earthquake struck exactly 32 years after an 8.0 temblor killed nearly 10,000 people in and around Mexico City.