SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Nearly two dozen bodies have been pulled from a collapsed school in Mexico City as the death toll continues to climb.
A powerful earthquake struck the country Tuesday. Around 226 people have been killed and the death toll is still climbing.
Upward of 20 buildings collapsed, and rescue teams are working through the night to remove debris and reach survivors inside.
The US Geological Survey says the magnitude-7.1 quake hit about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City. A state of disaster has been declared, and Sacramento’s Mexican Consulate tells CBS13 it is assisting people locally in getting a hold of their relatives.
Meanwhile, a Sacramento man was in Mexico City when another massive earthquake struck the capital exactly 32 years ago to the day. Tino Ortiz was listening to anniversary coverage of that earthquake on the radio Tuesday morning, remembering his own experience, when it was interrupted with an alert of Tuesday’s quake. Ortiz thought he heard wrong, and his next thought was about all of his family still in Mexico City.
The images are like flashbacks.
“It brings back memories,” said Ortiz, “I just couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it happened on the same day 32 years later.”
In 1985, Ortiz lived through a massive earthquake in Mexico City that toppled his hometown and killed more than 10,000 people.
“It’s one of those things you’ll never forget; you’re going to die with.”
Now, he’s reliving that same pain and fear, but this time he’s hundreds of miles away. Ortiz’s entire family still lives in Mexico City. He says most of his loved ones are safe, but his nephew who works in downtown Mexico City has yet to be found.
Video taken by a relative of Ortiz show waves crashing and boats rocking inside an typically still and calm lagoon. On land, more than two dozen buildings fell to the ground, including a school that had students inside.
At Sacramento’s Mexican Consulate, the Mexican flag was lowered to half-staff.
Mexican Consular General Liliana Ferrer said, “Obviously sadness. I’m from Mexico City myself.”
Consular General Liliana Ferrer says 40 of her employees also have relatives in Mexico City. She says each of them has been able to make contact with loved ones. For the outside community, the consulate is working to connect families and provide information.
“We have an obligation, the responsibility to keep them informed with what’s going on in their country,” said Ferrer.
For Ortiz, it’s a double tragedy that hit home, again.
“I feel pretty sad because I was there when the first one hit. For that to happen twice in the same city is just amazing.”
The Mexican Consulate has an emergency telephone line set up 24/7. Anyone who needs help contacting family in Mexico City or has any questions are being encouraged to call. The number is (855) 463-6395