LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Civilians joined police officers and soldiers to dig through and haul away rubble throughout the night in an effort to rescue hundreds feared buried in buildings collapsed by a magnitude-7.1 earthquake in Mexico City.
The official death toll from Tuesday’s earthquake now stands at 230 people, but with as many as 44 buildings collapsed in the capital city, many more are feared dead.
One of the most frantic searches was at a three-story school that collapsed. Volunteers, hoping to find children still alive, have gone in with buckets and wheel barrels to cart debris away. So far, the bodies of 21 children and four adults have been pulled from the rubble.
Family members who have rushed to the scene have spray painted “SILENCE” on the school building to allow them to listen for survivors. Hopeful rescuers continue to hear noises from within, but they are unsure if it’s coming from survivors or shifting wreckage.
The earthquake also broke gas mains and sparked fires, and the city has also been hit with massive power outages.
A state of emergency has been declared.
Since the initial quake, at least 11 aftershocks have struck, the most powerful being a magnitude-4.9.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department urban search and rescue team, known internationally as USA-2, has been activated to assist as part of the USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team. The team, which includes firefighters, paramedics, emergency room doctors, structural engineers, search dogs and handlers and hazardous materials technicians, will deploy Wednesday morning from Pacoima.
At Los Angeles International Airport, travelers whose flights were canceled after Mexico City International Airport was closed trickled back as travel to the capital city began to ramp back up. As many as 180 arriving and departing flights were affected at Mexico City International, the second busiest airport in Latin America, in the wake of the earthquake.
Delta, American, and United airlines are all offering waivers to travelers who had to cancel or rebook flights.