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Hopes fading for survivors as rescuers search Mexico City quake rubble

Search teams are still digging in dangerous piles of rubble in a bid to find survivors at collapsed buildings in Mexico City, where the death toll from the September 19 earthquake rose to 186, and 324 nationwide.

Officials said they had cleared only 103 of Mexico City's nearly 9,000 schools for reopening on Monday.

The need to inspect 98% of the capital's public and private schools nearly a week after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake is a stark indicator of just how long the path back to normality will be.

Federal education secretary Aurelio Nuno said it could take a couple weeks to inspect all of the schools, and the government will announce each day which schools have been cleared to resume classes.

For schools found to have structural damage, students could be put in temporary classrooms.

"For the safety of the boys, the girls, the teachers and for the peace of mind, of course, of all the fathers and all the mothers, all schools will be inspected," Mr Nuno said.

Rescue operations aimed at finding living survivors remained active in at least three sites in Mexico City - two apartment buildings and an office building - but hope dimmed every time rescuers had to retreat due to instability of debris.

No-one has been found alive since Wednesday, when a woman was pulled from debris.

As darkness fell on Sunday, prayers were held by families who have been gathered near the collapsed office hoping missing relatives will be found.

A crowd of onlookers watching swelled, and so did the number of volunteer workers. Teachers at one corner tried to entertain children of some of the waiting families. There also appeared to be more people offering psychological support.

A total of 38 buildings in the Mexican capital - mostly apartment blocks or office buildings - collapsed in Tuesday's earthquake.

The first days saw a dramatic scramble with picks, shovels and bare hands to reach survivors, and well over 100 were saved.

Thousands of people are homeless because their houses or apartment buildings, while still standing, are too dangerous.

Mexico City m ayor Miguel Angel Mancera said about 9,000 damaged properties had been examined so far and more than 8,000 were deemed safe, needing only minor repairs.

AP

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