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Israeli army delegation lands in Mexico to help grim search for quake victims

A delegation from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) lands in Mexico City to assist the recovery effort following an earthquake on September 20, 2017.
IDF Spokesman's Unit
The quake killed an estimated 233 people

A delegation from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including some 70 soldiers, including 25 engineers touched down in Mexico on Wednesday as Mexico grapples with the aftermath of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 233 people in country's center. 

The delegation includes 25 engineer specialists who will help asses the stability of buildings in the wake of the disaster. Search and rescue experts, along with medical professionals and technical staff, are also joining the team.

The commander of the mission, Lt. Col. Itamar Cohen, said that arriving within 36 hours of the quake means they will be able to contribute to ongoing search and rescue operations. 

Firefighters, police, soldiers and volunteers worked frantically late into Wednesday to remove debris in scenes repeated across a swath of central states in Mexico's second killer earthquake this month.

Mario VAZQUEZ (AFP)

Emergency workers reported that some victims had been rescued thanks to WhatsApp messages they sent to relatives while trapped under the debris.

Rescue teams were helped by thousands of ordinary civilians who dug through the rubble alongside them. Other Mexicans took to the streets with food and water for victims and emergency workers.

President Enrique Pena Nieto toured the hardest-hit areas and declared three days of national mourning.

"The priority remains saving lives," he said in a national address, insisting there was still hope of pulling survivors from the rubble.

More than 50 people have been rescued from collapsed buildings in the capital, he said.

Read more: Israeli aid group sends team to Mexico after 7.1 magnitude earthquake

(AFP contributed to this report)

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