MEXICO CITY (AP) — As the search continued Sunday for survivors and the bodies of people who died in quake-collapsed buildings in Mexico, thousands of people have been left homeless because their houses or apartment buildings are uninhabitable.
Specialists have fanned out to inspect buildings and determine which are unsafe after Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which has killed at least 319. Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente reported the new death toll on Twitter and said 181 of the deaths came in the capital.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera reported that 7,649 properties have been examined and 87 percent of those are safe and require only minor repairs. But that means about 1,000 left standing have been determined to be uninhabitable — and the number seemed likely to rise as more are inspected.
Mancera also said Saturday night on Twitter that nearly 17,000 people have been “attended to” at 48 shelters, though it’s not clear how many of those are being housed there. Many are bunking with family or friends.
Families have been camped out for days at the site of collapsed apartment and office buildings awaiting word on missing loved ones and holding out hope they may still be found alive.
A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in the country. At the site of an office building that collapsed in Mexico City Tuesday, rescuers briefly evacuated before returning to continue their work. (Sept. 23)
Inspectors were also evaluating the safety of schools and planned to begin getting kids back in classrooms after nearly a week away. The government said it would soon release information about which schools have been cleared to reopen Monday.
Search and rescue crews have pulled dozens of lifeless bodies from the wreckage of buildings — and numerous survivors, too. Mexico’s marines, considered the nation’s most elite troops, said they have recovered 102 bodies and rescued 115 people in the aftermath.
Many of those survivors are now in hospitals with injuries ranging from fractures and bruises to severe brain injuries. Many face an uncertain future.
In a hospital room blocks away from where he survived 26 hours buried under the rubble of his nine-story apartment building, Jose Luis Ponce lay sedated and on a respirator Saturday, alive but with fractures to multiple bones and damage to his lungs and a kidney.
“You said you would be with me always,” his daughter, Claudia Ponce, 30, told him. “Now is not the moment to leave.”