MEXICO CITY – The provisional death toll from the earthquake-triggered collapse of a school in Mexico’s capital has risen to 37 – 32 children and five adults, local media reported on Wednesday.
Those fatalities are among the nearly 220 attributed to Tuesday’s powerful magnitude-7.1 earthquake, whose epicenter was located around 55 kilometers (34 miles) south-southwest of the central city of Puebla.
A total of 14 people have been rescued, while 20 others are believed to be trapped under the rubble of the school, leading Mexican broadcaster Televisa reported.
Army soldiers and navy personnel, who are leading the search effort, said most of those rescued had been taken to a civilian hospital.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto paid a visit Tuesday night to the school, which teaches students from kindergarten through high school.
The latest figures provided by Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio put the confirmed earthquake death toll at 218, including at least 94 fatalities in Mexico City and dozens of deaths in Puebla and Morelos states.
The earthquake left around 800 people injured in Mexico City and caused 39 buildings to collapse, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said.
The Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education said in a statement that the earthquake left four dead and 40 injured at its Mexico City campus.
The federal Public Education Secretariat, for its part, issued a decree suspending classes on Wednesday at all schools in Mexico City and the states of Puebla, Morelos, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Tlaxcala, Mexico, Hidalgo and Michoacan.
A total of 209 schools were affected by the earthquake, 15 of which sustained significant damage, the secretariat said.
The temblor struck at 1:14 pm (1814 GMT) Tuesday, two hours after a simulation exercise was held to commemorate the powerful magnitude-8.1 earthquake that struck Mexico City exactly 32 years ago (on Sept. 19, 1985) and left thousands dead in the capital.
It occurred 12 days after a Sept. 7 magnitude-8.2 earthquake – the most powerful temblor to strike Mexico since 1932 – caused 98 deaths (78 in Oaxaca, 16 in Chiapas and four in Tabasco) when it struck just off Mexico’s southern coast.