Rescue crews working in silence raced Wednesday to remove a girl trapped in the rubble of a collapsed elementary school in Mexico City.
Search and rescue teams made contact with the young girl trapped in Colegio Enrique Rebsamen, CNN affiliate Foro TV reported. She has been given oxygen and water, rescuers said.
Throughout the day crowds gathered behind a barrier outside the school, awaiting news of the girl’s fate.
As the day went on, ambulances lined up down the street. Volunteers converged upon the scene, ready to offer supplies — medicine, neck braces, blankets — or a helping hand as soon as rescuers called out for assistance.
Inside the secured area, the girl’s family waited as members of the Mexican navy and marines, the Red Cross and a professional rescue team called Los Topos painstakingly worked to reach the girl.
Throughout the day, they periodically held up their fists and gestured for silence so they could listen for signs of life — a signal that extended a veil of calm over an otherwise chaotic scene.
By late afternoon, activity around the secure area grew frenetic. More ambulances and military vehicles lined the street as medical personnel and men with shovels streamed into the secure area. Trucks carried debris into the site to fortify parts of the buildings that are collapsing, CNN affiliate Foro TV reported.
‘I thought someone was kicking my chair’
The elementary school was one of 16 schools in Mexico City to suffer serious damage in Tuesday’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake. The earthquake caused part of the private elementary school to fold in on itself, sandwiching and collapsing classroom onto classroom.
At least 25 people — 21 children and four adults — were confirmed dead at the school, Luis Felipe Puente of the Ministry of the Interior’s Civil Protection unit said earlier Wednesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, three people were still missing there and 11 people had been rescued.
Foro TV interviewed two girls who said they were taking down her English homework as the building began to shake.
“I thought someone was kicking my chair, but I turned around and no one was kicking me,” one girl told the station.
“The English teacher said there was a quake. Our teacher took us to the stairs and that’s when part of the building started to come down. There was dust everywhere. We couldn’t see.”
‘We’re just trying to help’
A member of Los Topos told Foro TV he crawled into openings within the ruins over pieces of broken chairs and splintered walls.
Another member of the rescue group told Foro TV her small size made it easier for her to move through the rubble. She said she helped remove debris to create openings for cameras and sensors to move around.
“We’re just trying to help. Any parent, anyone with a child, would do the same,” she told Foro TV.
On Wednesday afternoon, a rescuer told Foro TV they found two temperature readings of vital organs that were confirmed with a doctor with federal police.
“That person should be alive,” another rescuer told Foro TV.
The rescuers said they wanted to send in a camera at a different angle to reduce the risk of collapse as they try to identify more of the head and arms.
“It’s definitely a body with life. There was some movement of the fingers,” one rescuer told reporters and a supervisor at the scene.