Mexico City — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.
Among the families of the missing, there are periodic moments when spirits lift. A flurry of activity, or relatives are summoned to the search site, raising hopes that someone has been found.
But despair deepens when the work slows or even stops, when rain or an aftershock threatens the stability of the tottering pile.
For the family of Adrian Moreno, a missing 26-year-old human resources worker at an accounting firm, the emotional roller coaster is getting to be too much. Moreno’s mother has a look of anguish and has largely stopped being able to speak. His boyfriend, Dario Hernandez, also looks lost, his gaze tear-stained and unfocused.
“Just hearing the earthquake alarm was horrible,” Hernandez said of a siren that rang during a 6.1 quake Saturday that was an aftershock of an even earlier and bigger temblor on Sept. 7.
“Something moves and ...” he said, his voice trailing away at the unspeakable thought the whole pile could suddenly collapse. “This is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life, the worst.”
A total of 38 buildings in the Mexican capital — mostly apartment blocks or office buildings — collapsed in the Sept. 19 earthquake, and the first days saw a scramble with picks, shovels and bare hands to reach survivors.
Mexican marines, the lead force in many of the rescue efforts, said they had recovered 102 bodies and rescued 115 people alive from buildings toppled by the quake, which has killed 319 people including 181 in the capital alone.
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 deemed uninhabitable.
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