'We Feel Powerless': Desperate Search Continues at Collapsed Mexico City Office Building - NBC Southern California

'We Feel Powerless': Desperate Search Continues at Collapsed Mexico City Office Building

At least 34 people were reported missing after the building collapse in Tuesday's devastating earthquake



    Rescue operations continued days after a powerful earthquake devastated Mexico City, with hundreds dead and thousands injured. Mekhalo Medina reports live from Mexico City for the NBC4 News on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (Published Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017)

    Anguished family members of people reported missing after an office building pancaked to the ground in Tuesday's Mexico City earthquake continued to wait just blocks from the rubble for word of their loved ones. 

    Maria Mendoza was at the site of the collapse, one of several around the megalopolis during Tuesday's magnitude-7.1 earthquake. Her 27-year-old cousin is one of at least 34 people reported missing in the neighborhood.

    He works in the collapse building.

    "We feel terrible," Mendoza said Thursday. "We don't know any information. We don't know what to do. We feel powerless. They're trapped."

    Families 'Feel Powerless' During Desperate Search

    [LA] Families 'Feel Powerless' During Desperate Search of Collapsed Building

    A woman describes the terrifying earthquake aftermath and desperate search for a loved one. Mekahlo Medina reports for Today in LA on Thursday Sept. 21, 2017.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017)

    Mendoza waited with others outside the collapsed seven-story office building in Mexico City's trendy Roma Norte district, where rescue crews began using machinery to remove debris in search of victims. People have been camped out in tents and on folding chairs since Tuesday's deadly earthquake, anxiously awaiting word of their loved ones.

    They're increasingly worried three days into the rescue effort -- and also getting frustrated with what they say is a lack of information from authorities. Patricia Fernandez says her 27-year-old nephew Ivan Colin Fernandez works as an accountant in the building.

    She says the last time they got an update was late Tuesday: That about 14 people were believed to be alive inside, and only three had gotten out. Fernandez embraced the man's mother, her sister, who wept without stop into Fernandez's black fleece sweater.

    She said she wants more information. In her words, "I think what kills us most is the desperation of not knowing anything."

    At least 250 people died following the quake, one of the strongest to hit Mexico in decades. Professionals and volunteers have worked at dozens of wrecked buildings across the capital and nearby states, looking for survivors.

    President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of mourning while soldiers, police, firefighters and everyday citizens kept digging through rubble, at times with their hands gaining an inch at a time, at times with cranes and backhoes to lift heavy slabs of concrete.

    "There are still people groaning. There are three more floors to remove rubble from. And you still hear people in there," said Evodio Dario Marcelino, a volunteer who was working with dozens of others at a collapsed apartment building.

    In all, 52 people had been rescued alive since the quake, the city's Social Development Department said, adding in a tweet: "We won't stop." It was a race against time, Pena Nieto warned in a tweet of his own saying that "every minute counts to save lives."

    In addition to those killed in Mexico City, the federal civil defense agency said 69 died in Morelos state just south of the capital and 43 in Puebla state to the southeast, where the quake was centered. The rest of the deaths were in Mexico State, which borders Mexico City on three sides, Guerrero and Oaxaca states.

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