MEXICO CITY – Lucia and Cristina Zamora are sisters with a particularly close-knit relationship, a bond that made them determined to find one another after Lucia became trapped in the wake of the powerful Sept. 19 earthquake.
Cristina told EFE that her sister survived amid the rubble of a collapsed building thanks to her character and her strong motivation not to not leave her only blood relative alone in the world.
Lucia, for her part, told EFE that seeing Cristina again was the realization of a vision she had had during her 33-hour ordeal, a period of time in which her greatest fear was not knowing how her sister had fared in the temblor.
The two became separated when the magnitude-7.1 earthquake toppled the building on Alvaro Obregon 286 where Lucia’s office was located.
She said she felt a very powerful movement that she had never experienced before and that she was unable to reach the emergency stairs because the path was strewn with furniture and other objects.
After taking a deep breath and recovering her balance Lucia tried to walk forward, but the roof of the building then came down on top of her.
That was the start of a long wait amid the rubble, in which she used her cellphone mainly for the light it provided but covered up the time so she would not know how long rescuers were taking to reach her.
She said the moments of silence were terrible because they made her think that hope was dissipating.
Finally, 28 hours after the earthquake, the voice of a rescue worker was audible, followed by the loud shouts of a group of young people trapped inside the collapsed building.
The rescue teams needed another five hours to bring everyone to safety, with Lucia feeling a light drizzle as she was lifted in a harness into the sky above the Roma neighborhood.
Cristina, for her part, described the terror she felt when she received word from one of Lucia’s friends that her sister had become trapped inside a collapsed building.
“I began to shake. I broke out in a cold sweat. I didn’t want to cry. I just said ‘this can’t happen to me,’” she recalled.
She went the following day to the toppled building, where she said the worst part was the powerlessness she felt at being so close to her sister yet unable to do anything to help her.
Lucia was finally rescued and the two became reunited at a Red Cross hospital, where they shared an emotional embrace at the end of 33 hours of uncertainty and anguish.
Cristina, the older sister, ran her hands over Lucia’s face and body in her eagerness to feel that she was alive.
“I thought you were going to leave me alone. I thought I wasn’t going to see you again,” she whispered to her sister while they embraced one another and sobbed.
Lucia managed to escape the earthquake unscathed yet is well aware that she could have been one of the 337 people killed or thousands injured in the Sept. 19 earthquake.