On Tuesday, without any warning, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Mexico City with such ferocity that entire buildings crumbled, over 200 people lost their lives, and others were left trapped under the rubble.
The first 72 hours after a disaster such as the one Mexico experienced on Tuesday are critical to recovery efforts, so volunteer and professional rescuers worked practically nonstop to save anyone they could.
According to CNN, “Los Topos,” or “the moles,” is a group of rescuers that was created after the 1985 earthquake and venture into the rubble, hoping to emerge with a survivor.
“They’re waiting for you, at times in agonizing pain and you’re outside feeling the pressure to find them,” Rafael Lopez, a “Los Topos” member, told CNN. “They beg for help. They cry. They scream. You try to get them to calm down so they can give you a reference of where to find them. Are they near stairs, a hallway?”
While the hope is that everyone who has been trapped can be saved, the reality is that the goal often becomes providing the family with closure.
“You feel a lot of uncertainty but no fear,” Ivan Barientos Salas explained to CNN. “There are paramedics there and your team has your back. You know you have a job to do. A family needs to know what happened to their loved one.”
For those who have already perished, the body is extracted carefully and placed respectfully on the ground, where a prayer is said before the search continues.
After tireless efforts, rescuers at the site of a collapsed 12-story apartment building (shown in this Univision article) extracted the last victim from the pile of rubble and were told to go home and “go to rest,” according to a Facebook post translated from Spanish. However, before the certainly exhausted rescuers left the scene, they stopped and honored their country.Christian Marquez Oropeza/Facebook
Some rescuers took off their hard hats, others saluted, and among the crumbled remains of the building, the rescuers joined voices and sang Mexico’s national anthem in an inspirational moment that was captured on video and posted to Facebook.
“And your temples, palaces, and towers collapse with a horrible crash and the ruins exist, saying: the homeland was made of a thousand heroes,” part of the anthem says.
After the song was finished, rescuers applauded and cheers of “viva” rang out — signaling that while Mexico may have been dealt a devastating blow, they will survive.
The Chicago Tribune reported that more than 2,000 people were injured and that 50 have been rescued, but many families remain in the dark about whether their loved ones are alive or dead.