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Rescuers Are Digging To Find Children Trapped In A Collapsed School After Mexico City's Earthquake

At least 25 people, including 21 children, have already died at the school.

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Mexico's secretary of public education has announced that at least 21 children and four adults have died at Colegio Enrique Rebsamen, an elementary school in Mexico City that collapsed during Tuesday's earthquake.

"Sadly it is confirmed the death of 25 people, 21 children and 4 adults, in the Enrique Rébsamen school. My condolences to their families," tweeted Aurelio Nuño, the secretary of public education.

En la escuela Enrique Rébsamen, lamentablemente se confirma la muerte de 25 personas, 21 niños y 4 adultos. Mis condolencias a sus familias.

Rescuers are searching the rubble for at least 30 children and teachers after the building collapsed during a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.

Courtesy of Rosalia Diaz

Rescue workers and volunteers at Enrique Rebsamen primary school, Mexico City, after it collapsed during the earthquake.

Hundreds of students and some staff were inside the school, on the south side of Mexico City, when it collapsed.

Police turning away the too many volunteers at this school, where hundreds of students are trapped #mexicoquake… https://t.co/8MfGuNPELE

Local residents crowded the scene soon after the building collapsed, many bringing water and blankets, doing what they could to help the recovery operation.

“I had to remove two children of about 5 years old [from the rubble], who were still hugging each other,” Luis Muñoz Trejo, a volunteer rescuer told BuzzFeed News.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

He described the building as having been flattened like a sandwich.

But some students were still being pulled out alive Tuesday night, Muñoz said, including a group of young girls who had been trapped in the parking area and were in the process of being rescued. Dozens of children rescued from the rubble have been taken to local hospitals.

Trained rescue dogs were also brought in Tuesday night to locate children still alive.

Carlos Jasso / Reuters

On Wednesday morning, a special unit of volunteers, Topos de Tlatelolco (also known as Topos Aztecos, a professional nonprofit rescue team), came to tunnel under the school, digging through concrete and wood in search of pockets of air where survivors could be hidden.

Two rescuers entered the school through a tunnel dug by the Topos and propped open with wooden beams at lunchtime on Wednesday, trying to rescue a young girl.

At regular intervals, all the dozen people working around the opening raised their fists, the gesture for asking for silence, so that the rescuers inside could hear and locate the living students.

Staff / Reuters

Steel workers have also been called in to cut through metal beams and are waiting on orders. An organization called Tlalpan arrived to carry rubble away by hand. They have also been bringing insulin, adrenalin, alcohol, oxygen, and penicillin.

▶️ VIDEO: Así rescataron a niños de escombros de escuela Enrique Rébsamen https://t.co/Peo2zWQwMU #Rebsamen… https://t.co/xPsJ0hANkB

Family members waited anxiously beyond the police barricades for news of their loved ones.

Ginnette Riquelme / Reuters

“They would give me the names of the children, who had died or who were rescued, and I had to walk around yelling the names in order to give the information to the parents,” paramedic Fernanda Lopez told BuzzFeed News.

A list of the children and teachers was passed around, the New York Times reported, as volunteers faced the grim task of crossing names off as bodies were pulled from the rubble.

The street in front of the school was blocked by rows of Mexican Federal Police officers, supported by Mexican Marines, who were in charge of crowd control. A truck operator stood with his machine, awaiting orders to help remove debris.

“Some [of the children caught in the debris] are friends of my son's,” Jorge Flores told BuzzFeed News as he waited outside the school for updates. He added that his sons attend a nearby school “where fortunately nothing happened.”

Only one student, age 13, is being treated at Hospital Angeles Acoxpa, around the corner from the collapsed school.

Sarah Blakley for Buzzfeed News

Hospital staff told BuzzFeed News they treated more than 80 people after the quake, with injuries ranging from serious head trauma to fractures.

Some injured have been discharged and others are still being treated. No one has died at the hospital.

A public list of people being treated is displayed at the hospital so family members can come and check for loved ones. "Alta" means they have left the hospital, while "hospitalizada" means they are still hospitalized.

At least 225 people are confirmed to have died in the quake, which struck only days after another earthquake hit the southern coast, killing at least 90 people.

The tremor struck on the 32nd anniversary of Mexico's 1985 earthquake, which killed an estimated 10,000 people. Many Mexicans had taken part in an earthquake drill earlier in the day.

The epicenter was recorded in Atencingo, Puebla state, approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Mexico City. It had a depth of 51 kilometers, the US Geological Survey said.

Rescue workers and government officials were still scrambling to assess the scale of the damage from the latest earthquake, with the first official figure placing the death toll at 250. However, this was later lowered as rescuers worked through the night and pulled a number of people alive from the rubble.

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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