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Children Trapped and Killed in Mexico Earthquake

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook central Mexico on Tuesday, reducing many buildings to rubble and leaving at least 225 people dead, including a number of schoolchildren in Mexico City.

“Unfortunately many people have lost their lives, including girls and boys in schools, buildings and houses. I want to express my condolences to those who lost a family member or a loved one. Mexico shares your grief,” said Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

He said efforts must now be focused on saving those who are still alive.

“The priority now is to continue rescuing those who are still trapped and provide medical attention to the injured,” Peña Nieto said.

During Tuesday’s earthquake, a wing of Mexico City’s three-story Enrique Rebsamen primary and secondary school collapsed into a pile of concrete slabs.

While rescuers dug into the pile to look for survivors, soldiers wedged wooden beams in place in an effort to stabilize the debris. Meanwhile, volunteers lined up to assist in the rescue effort – so many that some had to be turned away.

Luis Felipe Puente, national coordinator of civil protection for the Mexican Interior Ministry, reported that the bodies of 21 children and four adults had been pulled out of the debris.

According to Secretary of Public Education Aurelio Nuño, at least three more people — two of them children — were still missing as of Wednesday.

Social media users shared photos of missing students, while a crowd of parents waited outside of the school, hoping their children would be found alive.

Seven-year-old Jose Eduardo Huerta Rodiguez was one of the children trapped in the school.

His family pored over lists noting who had been rescued to see if their child had been found.

But on Tuesday night, Rodriguez’s aunt, who had been waiting at the school, called the child’s mother with a tragic update.

“He was still inside the school, and he was dead when they rescued him,” Paola Rodriguez told CNN.

Pedro Serrano, 29, a Mexican doctor who volunteered to join the rescue effort at the school, said he and others crawled into crevices amid the shifting pile of concrete.

“We dug holes, then crawled in on our bellies,” Serrano said.

“We managed to get into a collapsed classroom. We saw some chairs and wooden tables,” he added. “The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults — a woman and a man.”

None had survived.

Mexico has declared a three-day period of mourning for those who lost their lives in the earthquake, according to the nation’s secretary of public function.

Following Tuesday’s earthquake, many people who lost their homes fled to shelters around the city. Millions of people have no power, and schools have been shut down indefinitely.

The earthquake was the second to occur in Mexico in 12 days. On Sept. 7, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off of Mexico’s southern coast, leaving nearly people dead, according to the governor of the state of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat Hinojosa.

Peña Nieto called the earthquake “a new national emergency.”