President Trump Sends Message of Support to Mexico Following Earthquake

September 20, 2017 Updated: September 21, 2017    

Hours after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico, President Donald Trump said that the United States is standing with its southern neighbor and will be there for them.

“God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you,” the president wrote on Twitter.

The quake’s epicenter was some 100 miles southwest of the capital Mexico City.

Rescue workers are continuing to scrabble through the rubble, searching for survivors, including dozens of children feared buried beneath a Mexico City school.

Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the country’s most lethal earthquake in a generation.

A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet in Mexico City. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet in Mexico City.
REUTERS/Claudia Daut

At least 217 people were killed by the quake, nearly half of them in the capital. The disaster came as Mexico was still reeling from a powerful tremor that killed nearly 100 people in the south of the country less than two weeks ago.

Hundreds of emergency workers spent the night pulling rubble from the ruins of the grade school with their bare hands under the glare of floodlights. Three survivors were found at around midnight as volunteer rescue teams known as “moles” crawled deep under the rubble.

The earthquake toppled dozens of buildings, tore gas mains and sparked fires across the city and other towns in central Mexico. Falling rubble and billboards crushed cars.

The middle-class neighborhood of Del Valle was hit hard, with several buildings toppling over on one street. Reserve rescue workers arrived late at night and were still pulling survivors out early Wednesday.

Damages are seen after an earthquake hit in Mexico City, Mexico on Sept. 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Claudia Daut)
Damages are seen after an earthquake hit in Mexico City on Sept. 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Claudia Daut)

With power out in much of the city, the work was carried out with flashlights and generators. Rescue workers requested silence as they listened for signs of life.

Moises Amador Mejia, a 44-year-old employee of the civil protection agency, worked late into the night looking for people trapped in a collapsed building in Mexico City’s bohemian Condesa neighborhood.

“The idea is to stay here until we find who is inside. Day and night.”

While the US Geological Survey said on Tuesday that 11 aftershocks were registered following the initial quake at around lunchtime on Tuesday, with the most powerful measuring 4.9, the temblors were less frequent and smaller than those after the earthquake in southern Mexico this month.

A firefighter and a rescuer search for survivors in Mexico City after a strong quake hit central Mexico on Sept. 20, 2017. (ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter and a rescuer search for survivors in Mexico City after a strong quake hit central Mexico on Sept. 20, 2017. (ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Reuters contributed to this report.