This month, Mexico has been rattled by two powerful earthquakes just 12 days apart. On September 7, a magnitude-8.1 earthquake—the strongest to hit Mexico in a century—killed 90 people, but did less damage than it could have, as the quake’s epicenter was off the Pacific coast.
The most recent, a magnitude-7.1 temblor, hit the city on September 19, 2017. It crumpled buildings, sent frightened people into the streets, and killed, as of this writing, 225 individuals who were unable to escape the destruction. Its epicenter was some 100 miles away from the Mexican capital, near Puebla. Ironically, Tuesday’s quake fell on the anniversary of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in 1985 that lasted for three minutes and killed about 10,000 people in the region.
1Rescuers work against the clock to save children buried in the rubble of their former school
The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that jolted Mexico City caused the Enrique Rebsamen School to fold in on itself, sandwiching and collapsing classroom onto classroom. So far, rescuers have found the bodies of 21 schoolchildren and four adults.
Rescue workers, using thermal, sound, and movement sensors, have formed an assembly line to dig through the cinder blocks. Together, strangers, friends, and first responders are scraping through the rubble with their bare hands, looking for any signs of life. A day after the quake, from the hole inside the school walls, eleven children are pulled out, sobbing, but apparently not seriously injured.
The building was one of 16 schools in Mexico City that were heavily damaged.
2A Mexico City newscaster runs for cover as the earthquake hits
A Mexico City news station was broadcasting live when the 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck. While the reporter speaks, a warning siren is heard in the background as the studio camera goes off-air. Watch as studio equipment and lights swinging violently, and the anchor and staff run for cover.
3A gas explosion sends a mushroom cloud in the sky as tremors rattle the city
When the massive earthquake struck, a gas explosion erupted from a factory following the quake, which hit just south of the capital, sending a mushroom cloud fireball into the sky. The intense moment was captured on video.
The footage was shared by Texas state representative Mauricio Cantu.
4An American tourist records the earthquake from a boat in the canals of Xochimilco
American tourist Alyne Tamir filmed the quake as it happened. She was on the usually tranquil canals of Xochimilco, north of the city, when tremors turned the water into an undulating, quivering mess. She can be heard saying "it's not a good idea to be on this boat."
Tamir, a Philippine-based florist who shared the video Facebook, wrote: “THERE WAS JUST AN EARTHQUAKE WHILE WE WERE ON A BOAT. It's being shared around the world! Time Magazine, CNN, ABC, everyone. Surreal. Surreal. Also, I just want to say that when this was happening, I had no idea how bad of an earthquake it was. I had no frame of reference. Until we got off the boat and started hearing the news on the radio.”
5A shopper cheats certain death twice in a Puebla mall
This Mexico City shopper is lucky to be alive following the earthquake, as this heart-stopping footage shows.
The woman, shopping in Angelópolis Lifestyle Center in the city of Puebla cheats death twice in 20 seconds as the 7.1 magnitude quake hits. She panics as the earthquake starts, unsure of where to run before making her way into a large open area. Just a few seconds later the glass roof above her head cracks and comes down, with some large shards missing her by centimeters.
6The Popocatépetl volcano is triggered by the earthquake
The Popocatépetl volcano burst into life as the earthquake tore through the Mexican capital. In a clip posted to social media, a large plume of smoke is seen erupting into the sky from the top of the volcano, which is known to be very active. Fifteen people were killed when a church on the slopes of the volcano collapsed during mass following the latest eruption.
7A building collapse is caught on video during the earthquake
In a video posted by the Mexican newspaper Milenio, pedestrians are seen milling outside of a building on a street corner when the earthquake hits. The structure then begins to sway back and forth and in seconds, crumples to the ground like paper. One woman can be heard crying, yelling “oh my God” in Spanish repeatedly before the street is engulfed in dust and smoke.
8A drone captures the city's devastation
Watch as a drone hovering over Mexico City captures the aftermath of the 7.1. earthquake. The damage is extensive, with footage showing at least one building fully collapsed, as people stand atop it surveying the devastation.
9A dog is found alive in the rubble as rescuers cheer
Mexican people from all walks of life have come together to aid those in need in the hours immediately following the earthquake. In a touching moment that captures the best of the human spirit, several men rescue a dog that was trapped under the rubble of what used to be a building. A crowd gathered, and the response when they see that the dog is safe is truly touching.
10The reason why rescuers raise their fists while searching the rubble
As rescue efforts continue, one particular gesture has been replicated in image after image—rescuers standing firm and raising both fists in the air.
It is a way for them to ask for complete silence as they listen for voices of people who may be buried alive. In one gripping video, NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer recorded one such moment in which the crowd keeps quiet as rescuers listen for the voices of children.
Social media has also helped the public to identify the meaning behind the hand gesture. "Puños Arriba" (“Fists up. Survivors cry for help”) reads the graphic with a raised fist that is being passed around on Facebook and Twitter. It also serves as a symbolic form of solidarity.
Call for silence @ search/rescue site. Here dozens of children are dead, missing, and believed to be alive. This is when they hear voices. pic.twitter.com/vOLWmh7arc
— Miguel Almaguer (@Miguelnbc) September 20, 2017