Sarairis Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images(MEXICO CITY) — Rescuers continue to frantically dig through the rubble of a collapsed school in Mexico City two days after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, killing hundreds.
One rescuer, who was caked with dust from a pile of cinderblock and rebar that once made up a wing of the Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary schools, told ABC News early Thursday morning that rescuers were just 3 to 4 feet away from one of the trapped children but were blocked by a chunk of concrete. He’s heard knocks and multiple voices, but the noise has grown fainter over the past 12 hours, he said.
The rescuer told ABC News that he was inside when the pile began to collapse, triggering panic to get out. The crawl space for rescuers is only about 16 inches high.
So far, the bodies of 21 children and four adults have been discovered at the site, Mexico’s Education Minister Aurelio Nuño said. Eleven people have been rescued, and three people are still missing — two children and a teacher.
On Thursday morning, the Mexican military delivered an on-camera appeal to parents of children who are still missing to come to the school. Perplexed officials told ABC News that no parents have reported their children missing.
Overnight, first responders continued an hourslong effort to rescue a student named Frida Sofia, Mexico’s education minister told Televisa.
Rescuers managed to contact Sofia and give her water and oxygen, the education minister said. She is trapped under a granite table or desk, which rescuers believe is giving her some protection from the rubble.
Sofia informed workers that there are two people trapped with her. Sofia said she can feel the others but doesn’t know whether they are alive.
Young students were seen being pulled out of the rubble in dramatic video posted to social media.
Neighbors, police, soldiers and firefighters alike could be seen forming an assembly line, tirelessly clawing through the rubble all day Wednesday.
Rescue dogs and harnessed workers wearing helmets were onsite to search for survivors.
At one point, the rescue crews dropped listening devices into a hole amid the rubble of the collapsed structure and attempted to send in a rescue dog to sniff for survivors.
A flurry of activity was concentrated under a white canopy erected over the hole.
In between the pockets of quiet, a generator’s drone can be heard under the repetitive clanking of shopping carts caused by strangers delivering bottles of water and tortillas to rescuers.
A 13-year-old boy named Rogelio Heredia managed to claw his way out of the debris. He told Televisa it felt “like a dream” and described scaling a wall that had collapsed to get to safety on the street.
The school was one of a dozen buildings that were leveled by the pulverizing power of the quake, whose epicenter was about 75 miles from the capital. Mexico City’s foundations were built on a lake bed, making many structures particularly unstable during an earthquake.
Tuesday’s quake, which has already claimed more than 200 lives, came on the 32nd anniversary of a 1985 earthquake that caused thousands of deaths in Mexico.
The region was engaging in earthquake drills only hours before the earthquake struck Tuesday.
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.