Girl trapped in rubble didn't exist; 273 dead in Mexico quake

5.8-magnitude tremor strikes Mexico

5.8-magnitude tremor strikes Mexico

By Wednesday, the death toll rose to 225 after the quake toppled homes, schools and apartment buildings.

After a 7.1 magnitude natural disaster in Mexico that killed over 280 people nationwide, reports that a girl named Frida Sofia was trapped under a collapsed part of a school in Mexico City circulated quickly through the media, creating an worldwide sensation.

Those questions emerged following reports of rescue workers trying to free a 12-year-old girl trapped in the ruins of a Mexico City school after Mexico's debilitating quake this week. "We never had any knowledge about that report, and we do not believe - we are sure - it was not a reality".

"The rescue and care of people injured by the quake remain the highest priority for all authorities", he tweeted Thursday.

However, later on Thursday, Sarmiento apologized for his earlier words and said rescuers did not have enough information to know if it is an older person or a child in the rubble.

LAFD personnel are from what is known as the "heavy" team and are specially trained to deal with significant disasters involving collapsed buildings, USAID administrator Mark Green said in a briefing today. "We have been sharing all the information we obtained from rescuers and technical analysis", he said. "As long as there is the slightest possibility of someone alive, we will continue searching with the same energy".

Several people were found alive on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. The workers had been toiling through the night, and the change of rescuing the girl appeared to give them hope and goal despite their exhaustion.

Luis Ruiz, a 39-year old carpenter, complained that the police would not let him enter the ruins where his sister and two of her children were buried in the rubble. The cities of Jojutla and Cuernavaca have been very badly affected.

Climbing around the rubble and guided by her trainer, her ears, and her nose, Frida hunts for signs of life. "You want to believe there are children still alive down there".

According to AP, the rescuers were emotionally wedded to the story, operating on little sleep and food.

Despite the setback - and the diminishing hopes that anyone was left under the rubble - rescuers appeared unwilling to question the effort. "It was a confusion", volunteer rescuer Alfredo Padilla told the news agency.

"Corruption costs not just an extra amount of money, but it costs lives", he said, referring to violations of building codes and shoddy construction materials in states like Oaxaca.

Sarmiento said he was unaware of how the Frida Sofia saga began.

Officials couldn't locate any relatives of the missing girl, and no girl with that name attended the school. When they called out to see if she was alive, they said, she waved her hand in response.

It could have political repercussions: Education Secretary Aurelio Nuno, often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, had repeated the story about the girl.

The first was a magnitude 8.1 quake that struck southern Mexico and killed at least 90 people.

Authorities had reported that a slightly built civilian volunteer was able to squeeze into a narrow passage through the rubble so as to pass the girl oxygen and water through a tube.

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