The death toll from a devastating earthquake in central Mexico climbed to at least 226 people on Wednesday, as rescue crews struggled to save those trapped under collapsed buildings in the densely populated area.
Civil protection agency head Luis Felipe Puente wrote on Twitter Wednesday that at least 117 people had been killed in Mexico City, 55 in the state of Morelos, 39 in Puebla, 12 in Mexico State and three in Guerrero.
Tuesday's earthquake happened on the exact anniversary of a 1985 quake in the capital that caused the deaths of about 10,000 people.
President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has called together his national crisis council, said on Twitter he had declared a state of disaster to free up emergency funds. He observed the damage in a flyover of Mexico City.
Mexican news outlets and residents have shared dramatic images of buildings collapsing and on fire.
Devastating images from Mexico City. pic.twitter.com/RpF7sUq31sâ€” Jorge Guajardo (@jorge_guajardo) September 19, 2017
AsÃ se vio la CDMX desde las alturas segundos despuÃ©s del sismo de este medio dÃa. pic.twitter.com/oWDagcjiiVâ€” PeriÃ³dico ExcÃ©lsior (@Excelsior) September 19, 2017
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and hit 5 miles (8 kilometers) southeast of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla. Mexico's seismological agency recorded 11 aftershocks.
Fires engulf buildings
Thousands of people were sent fleeing into the streets as buildings swayed violently in the densely populated capital. Mexican TV broadcast images of collapsed buildings and other scenes of severe damage as reports emerged of various fires in different parts of the city.
Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told the Televisa news network at least 44 buildings had collapsed in Mexico City.
Buildings that collapsed in the capital included apartment blocks, a school, a factory and a supermarket. Countless volunteers and rescue workers dug through rubble searching for survivors.
"My wife is there. I haven't been able to communicate with her. She is not answering, and now they are telling us we have to turn off our cellphones because there is a gas leak," Juan Jesus Garcia told Reuters news agency, choking back tears.
Hours after the earthquake, rescue workers were still searching for survivors in the rubble of a primary school that partly collapsed in the city's south. President Pena Nieto announced late Tuesday that the bodies of 20 children and two adults had been discovered there. He added that more than 30 others were still missing.
Rescuers call for silence
Rescue workers in the capital rushed to damaged or collapsed buildings and worked to find survivors, asking crowds to be silent so they could listen for people who might be trapped.
Reacting on Twitter, US President Donald Trump told Mexico the US would "be there" for them.
"God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you," he tweeted.
The United Nations has also expressed its condolences and said it was ready to help Mexico.
(This article was first published on DW. You can read the original article here.)