MEXICO – Rescue workers were racing against time on Thursday to recover survivors alive from underneath the rubble of buildings that collapsed in the Mexico earthquake.
According to experts, humans can generally survive extreme conditions only up to 72 hours.
“The official Mexican criterion is that after 72 hours, it is impossible to rescue someone alive,” Dr. Manuel Barcenas, who was assisting the authorities in a rescue operation in the Linda Vista colony in Mexico City, told EFE.
He said people who were yet to be rescued from under the debris of the quake that shook the country on Tuesday were trapped in extreme conditions.
The rubble might have crushed their vital organs, which could lead to their rapid deterioration and eventual failure, leading to death, he added.
Rotting food in the houses along with the dust can also cause pneumoconiosis, a disease that obstructs the lungs and was very common among survivors of the devastating 1985 earthquake in Mexico.
“We are vaccinating for tetanus and giving post-exposure vaccination,” Barcenes added.
Time is also crucial for various buildings in the city, where around 30 structures have suffered serious damage and are in danger of collapsing.
In the city, 209 schools have also been affected by the massive earthquake and at least 500 will have to be examined.
Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said that the real number of people trapped dead or alive under the debris is still not known.
According to various estimates at least 100 people have been killed and around 1,800 have been injured in the city, while 39 buildings have been destroyed, a number which is likely to rise as authorities have warned of possible collapse of many structures.
Despite the looming 72 hour deadline, Barcenes said after the 1985 earthquake, some people were found alive even after being trapped under the debris for a week; and it’s this faith in the human capability to survive that the rescue workers are banking on as they work round the clock to find more survivors.