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In Pics: Hundreds of Mexicans showed up to pitch in with rescue efforts after quake

Citizens rallied together to help their neighbours, blurring class lines in otherwise divided Mexico.

world Updated: Sep 21, 2017 19:49 IST
Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers search for survivors in a flattened building in Mexico City, a day after a strong quake hit central Mexico.
Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers search for survivors in a flattened building in Mexico City, a day after a strong quake hit central Mexico. (AFP)

Climbing onto a pile of rubble that used to be a building may not seem the most obvious thing to do for someone who has just survived an earthquake.

But that is how thousands of Mexicans have reacted to the deadly 7.1-magnitude quake that rocked the country Tuesday, killing more than 200 people.

Businessmen in ties, students in jeans, doctors in scrubs and other ordinary people from all walks of life have joined professional rescue teams in rushing onto and into the mangled remains of homes, schools and offices in Mexico City, desperately trying to reach survivors before it’s too late.

Volunteer rescuers stand by for their turn to arrive to take part in the cleanup of rubble from collapsed buildings in search of survivors, in Mexico City. (AFP)

The outpouring of sympathy has been overwhelming -- too much for the authorities to deal with at times.

Volunteer rescuers are now being turned away at many sites if they do not bring their own helmets. And appeals have gone out for residents of the capital to stop giving perishable food items and water, which have already been donated in abundance.

Posters on a board inform about items needed by the rescuers taking part in the cleanup of rubble from collapsed buildings in search of survivors. (AFP)

Mexico’s impressive tradition of citizen solidarity can be traced back to September 19, 1985 -- 32 years to the day before Tuesday’s quake -- when another massive earthquake devastated the capital, killing more than 10,000 people.

The government was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster that citizens took matters into their own hands, organizing teams of diggers, tunnelers, rubble removers, supply managers and the like.

Rescuers and volunteers search for survivors amid the rubble of a multistory building flattened by the quake. (AFP)

That same determination to band together to dig through the rubble and pull survivors from the wreckage was visible across Mexico City after Tuesday’s quake.

People rallied to help their neighbours in a huge volunteer effort that included people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers stood alongside construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line.

Rescue operations underway in Mexico City. (AFP)