Mexican Quake Toll 4,700; 10 Americans Dead

Times Staff Writer

Police raised the death toll from the devastating Sept. 19-20 earthquakes to more than 4,700 Saturday, and the U.S. Embassy raised the total of American dead to 10, with 24 more U.S. citizens still missing. No more survivors were found.

Meanwhile, police reported no new damage or injuries from a brief 5.0 aftershock that struck the capital late Friday night, sending frightened residents out into the streets.

Rescue efforts continued Saturday at sites where there were heavy casualties from the first quake, registering 8.1 on the Richter scale. Success, however, appeared less and less likely.

The last reported rescue of a survivor occured late Friday at a clothes factory in Mexico City’s garment district. Rescuers pulled out a seamstress from the jumbled top floors after listening equipment detected movement inside.

To win time, heavy equipment was employed to lift off collapsed floors while daring Mexican rescuers called “moles” crept belly-down through makeshift tunnels into the debris. The heavy equipment, pulling giant slabs of concrete from atop jumbles of debris, replaced the delicate tunnel-digging of days past and gave Saturday’s rescue efforts a different look.


For several days, Mexican wrecking crews have been eager to knock down Juarez Hospital, initially for fear of epidemic from rotting bodies. However, the chances of epidemic are considered slim because the cadavers are not exposed to the air nor are microbes entering the city’s water supply from the site.

At one point, a volunteer fire department team from Dade County, Fla., walked off the job at Juarez because a wrecking crew began to work while rescue attempts were under way in a tunnel.