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Desperate parents, missing children at quake-hit Mexico City school

Mexico City, Mexico | AFP | Adriana Fargo nervously bites her lip as she waits for news on the fate of her seven-year-old daughter, feared buried in the earthquake-hit remains of a Mexico City elementary and middle school.

At least 21 children died when a three story wing of the Enrique Rebsamen school collapsed after a 7.1 magnitude quake struck Mexico on Tuesday.

Thirty children are missing, and some could still be alive.

“No one can possibly imagine the pain I’m in right now,” said Fargo, wrapped in a blanket as she sat with other anguished parents Wednesday in an improvised shelter near the school.

What is the girl’s name? Fargo’s fists tighten and she stares at the ground, unable to pronounce her daughter’s name. Her lips strain as she holds back what appears to be a mournful wail of pain.

After sunrise there was a glimmer of hope amid the torture of uncertainty: rescuers confirmed that they located a girl alive and trapped in the rubble.

There was a call for absolute silence as the rescuers slid a themal scanner down a narrow crack where they had made contact with the child.

“We are very, very close to people who could be alive. We’re working with thermal cameras and canine units,” said volunteer rescuer Pamela Diaz, a bread baker by profession.

“We keep moments of absolute silence to listen for survivors. They tend to cry out or bang on walls,” she told AFP by telephone.

Another rescuer, 42 year-old Flor Gonzalez, gave a grim description her experience.

“Last night I counted five cadavers that were removed from the school,” said Gonzalez, a dentist who spent the night volunteering at the school.

“I saw when they notified one of the parents . … it was devastating,” she said, as tears swelled in her eyes.

A third rescuer, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier told AFP that there were signs of even more survivors — possibly 20 children trapped inside a classroom with a teacher.

He said there also appeared to be nine lifeless bodies in the debris.

Up to now, 11 children and at least one teacher were pulled alive from the rubble.

However, rescuers also pulled out 26 lifeless bodies — all but five of them children, said rescue coordinator Jose Luis Vergara.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who rushed to the site late Tuesday, warned that the death toll could rise.

At least 217 people were reported killed by the earthquake.

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