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Search continues for quake survivors in Mexico

23 September 2017

Rescue teams in central Mexico have been working around the clock among the flattened buildings since Tuesday's massive 7.1 magnitude natural disaster in search of survivors.

But now, Mexican officials are claiming the girl never existed.

The story of Frida Sofia was "not a reality", Angel Enrique Sarmiento, the under-secretary of the navy, reported on Thursday afternoon.

Even as authorities attempted to correct false reports, some ambiguity and confusion remained.

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The AP interviewed some of them on Wednesday, and they said the girl was alive beneath the wreckage. "I was bringing smelling salts and oxygen tanks to the exact spot where the rescue workers said she was trapped", said Aracely Suarez, a 23-year-old economics student whose face was reddened by the sun after two days working at the site.

Hard-hit Mexico City and much of the nation had pinned its hope on the survival of a little girl believed to be buried alive beneath the rubble of what was once the Colegio Enrique Rebsamen school. The LA Times pointed out that Frida has helped find 52 bodies, with 12 of them alive, throughout her entire career as the star of the Mexican navy's Canine Unit.

As hours flew by and day turned to night, rescuers requested the press and cameramen present on the scene to turn on their flashlights and shooting beams to help them in their rescue mission. But trapped survivors have been known to hang on for many days more, including after a massive quake that devastated Mexico City in 1985, killing more than 10,000 people.

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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Tuesday that at least 44 buildings - homes, schools, and office buildings - had toppled after the quake.

Rubble from the building litters the streets as the rescuers crouch down to retrieve the survivors.

The television station continued to give accounts, which it said were verified by officials, in an effort to rescue the girl leading up to Thursday's report by the navy, shocking many Mexicans who had followed the news, BuzzFeed said. If they detect a person, Frida follows up to confirm.

Neither school or government authorities have released lists of who might still be trapped in the building, amid complaints of a lack of information.

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The military said the girl had spoken, managing to say: "I'm very exhausted". "If someone made it up, it was them". MSF has deployed its teams-comprised of psychologists and social workers-to several points where rescue efforts are still underway. "This was just a media spectacle".

Search continues for quake survivors in Mexico