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Northern Ireland couple recalls terror of Mexico earthquake

By Chris McCullough

A couple from Co Antrim have told of their terror after an earthquake struck in Mexico.

Carrickfergus man Colin Dalton and his wife Tania Segura, who originally comes from Mexico, were travelling in a car when they heard sirens alerting them to the quake that would go on to kill 225 people.

The couple are currently on holiday in Mexico City visiting family and were enjoying their vacation when they heard a siren sounding, just before the earthquake - which measured 7.1 magnitude on the scale - hit 75 miles away.

Colin said everyone exited their vehicle and got onto the road.

He said he could see vehicles shaking and felt the ground shuddering beneath his feet.

Last night he told the Belfast Telegraph: "We have been in Mexico City since last Thursday to visit our Mexican family and for a vacation.

"The quake hit Mexico City at around 1.20 in the afternoon.

"The epicentre of the quake was Puebla, which is south of Mexico City.

"We were in the city travelling by car going to meet a friend when a siren sounded and all the cars stopped, and people got out of their cars.

"We could feel the ground shaking and see the cars shaking from side to side."

Colin said the tremors lasted for approximately five minutes "and then everyone continued on with their business".

Yesterday, a child was found alive under the rubble of a collapsed Mexico City school.

The girl was found by rescuers in the debris at the Enrique Rebsamen school in a southern area of the capital.

Rescuers spotted the child and shouted to her to move her hand if she could hear them, which she did.

A search dog subsequently entered the wreckage and confirmed she was alive.

Tuesday's quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of a 1985 tremor that killed thousands. Just hours before it hit, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.

At the Rebsamen school, a wing of the three-storey building collapsed.

Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.

Volunteer Dr Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the pile of rubble. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.

He said: "We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults - a woman and a man.

"We can hear small noises, but we don't know if they're coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling) or someone below calling for help."

The federal Education Department reported late on Tuesday that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school's wreckage, all but four of them children.

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40% of Mexico City and 60% of nearby Morelos state were without power.

But, he said, "the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people".

Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed and twisted and hundreds of thousands of panicked people ran into the streets.

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