Israel, Chile, El Salvador and Honduras sending search and rescue specialists after 7.1-magnitude tremblor
Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers search for survivors in a flattened building in Mexico City on September 20, 2017 a day after a strong quake hit central Mexico. (AFP PHOTO / Yuri CORTEZ)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Rescuers dug Thursday for survivors of a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 237 people in Mexico, as the nation watched anxiously for signs of life at a collapsed school in the capital.
Firefighters, police, soldiers and volunteers worked frantically to remove rubble in scenes repeated across a swath of central states in Mexico’s second killer earthquake this month.
The most agonizing search was at a school in the south of Mexico City where 21 children — aged between seven and 13 — and five adults were crushed to death. Many children were still missing.
Rescue workers were desperately trying to reach several children believed to be alive beneath the wreckage in the early hours of Thursday — some 36 hours after the quake struck. Using a thermal scanner, they had located signs of life in several locations.
“They are alive! Alive!” shouted Civil Protection volunteer Enrique Garcia, 37. “Someone hit a wall several times in one place, and in another there was a response to light signals,” he said.
“We have been at this since yesterday, but we cannot reach them, because they are trapped between two slabs.”
So far, 11 children and at least one teacher have been rescued from the rubble of the Enrique Rebsamen elementary and middle school.
A man is pulled out of the rubble alive in Mexico City on September 20, 2017 as the search for survivors continues a day after a strong quake hit central Mexico. (AFP PHOTO / Pedro PARDO)
“No one can possibly imagine the pain I’m in right now,” said one mother, Adriana Fargo, who was standing outside what remained of the school waiting for news of her seven-year-old daughter.
In the Condesa neighborhood, Karen Guzman sat on a stool in the street with her back to one of the collapsed buildings. She said she could not bear the tension of the search for around 30 people thought to be under the rubble, among them her brother.
Beside her were two street poles tagged with lists of rescued people, but they did not include the name of her brother Juan Antonio, a 43-year-old accountant who worked on the top floor of the four-story building.
“My mom is looking for him in hospitals because we don’t trust those lists. Sometimes I think nobody knows anything,” she said.
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.
Rescuers search for survivors buried under the rubble and debris of a building flattened by a 7.1-magnitude quake in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / CARLOS RAMIREZ)
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told Televisa TV that 39 buildings in the capital had fallen. Searches were under way in all but five where rescuers had determined that nobody remained trapped, he said.
Five Taiwanese were trapped in a three-story building that had collapsed in Mexico City, according to Taiwan’s foreign ministry. They included two relatives of a Taiwanese businessman, whose office is in the building, as well as three employees.
Nowhere to go
Many residents were spending a second night in parks and plazas, in tents or makeshift shelters, unable or unwilling to return to their homes as authorities inspected some 600 buildings whose walls swayed and cracked when the quake struck.
US President Donald Trump called Pena Nieto and offered assistance and search-and-rescue teams which are now being deployed, the White House said.
Chile and El Salvador pledged aid, Honduras sent 36 rescue workers and Israel sent a team of 70 soldiers including engineers and search and rescue specialists which would arrive Friday.
The earthquake hit on the anniversary of a huge quake in 1985 that killed more than 10,000 people, the disaster-prone country’s deadliest ever.
Tuesday’s struck just two hours after Mexico held a national earthquake drill, as it does every September 19 to remember the 1985 disaster.
Rescuers and firefighters lower the corpse from a house that was destroyed after a powerful quake in Mexico City on September 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Victor GALINDO)
A system of quake sensors was set up in 1993 along the Pacific coast, where tremors are more common. People in Mexico City were not warned by it on Tuesday because the epicenter was only 120 kilometers (75 miles) outside the capital and thus outside the main area of sensor coverage, said Carlos Valdes of the National Center for Disaster Prevention.
Adding to the national sense of vulnerability, the earthquake struck just 12 days after another quake that killed nearly 100 people in southern Mexico.
Experts said the two quakes did not appear to be related, as their epicenters were far apart.
Mexico sits atop five tectonic plates, making it particularly vulnerable to earthquakes.
Luis Felipe Puente, the national disaster response agency chief, said that of the dead, 102 were in Mexico City, 69 in Morelos, 43 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico state, five in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.
In Puebla, a picturesque colonial city near the quake’s epicenter, several churches were damaged and one collapsed, killing 11 people attending a baptism, officials said.
A leading Jewish human rights organization has expressed its relief at the defeat of Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari – the Qatari candidate for the post of UNESCO Director General who was tainted by antisemitic links – urging at the same time that “now is not the time for democracies to abandon” the UN’s cultural, scientific and educational organization.
BUCHAREST, Romania (JTA) — When the roof of the Jewish State Theater collapsed during a 2014 snowstorm, its director reluctantly knew it was finally time to abandon the century-old building in this capital city..
Following years of neglect by authorities, the Bucharest Jewish community had fought for decades to keep the storied theater afloat. The Jewish State Theater had been a major cultural institution for Central European Jews prior to the Holocaust. Later, during communism, it was the Romanian Jewish community’s only independent institution.
Audrey Azoulay (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose Audrey Azoulay, France’s former Minister of Culture, as their Director General on Friday.
UNESCO’s executive board voted 30 to 28 in favor of Azoulay, rejecting Qatar’s Hamad Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Kawari, who has been accused of anti-Semitism. Azoulay must still be approved by UNESCO’s 195 members when they meet in November. If accepted, she will be the second French head of the organization, the second woman, and the first Jewish director general of UNESCO.
I am a Catalan Jew. Even though I’ve been based in Chicago for more than a year now—I moved there, of course, for love—I’ve spent most of my life in lively and lovely Barcelona, a city in which antiquity and modernity walk gracefully hand in hand. Even so, work in Barcelona has been scarce and poorly paid since the Spanish financial crisis started in 2008. This ongoing event has contributed to the rise of the Catalan independence movement among other factors. I have witnessed first-hand how independentism went from being marginal to becoming central.
Dutch documentary about the beloved Israeli fiction writer, a cult favorite in Holland, opens at the 33rd Haifa Film Festival
It seems unlikely to have two Dutch filmmakers behind “Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story,” a documentary about the beloved Israeli writer and humorist, currently premiering at the 33rd Haifa Film Festival.
Yet it is their nationality that offers filmmakers Stephane Kaas and Rutger Lemm the ability to gaze lovingly and critically at Keret, known locally and internationally for his wry, humorous short stories and essays.
The “reconciliation” accord they reached in Cairo paves the way for creating a state within a state in the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian-sponsored deal does not require Hamas to dismantle its security forces and armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam. Nor does the agreement require Hamas to lay down its weapons or stop amassing weapons and preparing for war.
This is a very comfortable situation for Hamas, which has effectively been absolved of any responsibility toward the civilian population. Hamas could not have hoped for a better deal. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be permitted to maintain its own security force, while Abbas’s government oversees civilian affairs and pays salaries to civil servants.
A sigh of relief was heard last week from the New York Times to many newspapers and media outlets around the world, even in Israel, accompanied by a sneer toward the political right: He’s not a Muslim! Wow. It turns out that the mass murder in Las Vegas was committed by “only” a lunatic, Stephen Paddock, and one doesn’t have to be a jihadist to carry out a merciless massacre.
Reporters continue scratching their heads about what President Trump meant when he spoke of the “calm before the storm” recently as he was hosting a dinner for military commanders and their spouses. It seems clear to me that he was sending a powerful message to North Korea and Iran: change your behavior now or prepare to face new but unspecified painful consequences.
Most know the name of Israel’s famed spy group. The Mossad (“The Institute”) has helped protect Israel since 1949. Until recent years, the head of the Mossad was a secret. I well remember interviewing Ariel Sharon in 1998 at his office in Tel Aviv. After going through a maze of metal detectors, we waited in an outer room. Soon, a man walked down a hallway and stood before an elevator. He smiled and got on the elevator.
The New York based Center for Jewish History (CJH) remains embroiled in controversy weeks after it has been revealed that the new CEO, David N. Myers is an active leader of the New Israel Fund, If Not Now, When, J Street and other organizations that are hostile to the State of Israel. While Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) has Myers listed in their propaganda as an academic advisor, he claims that this is inaccurate. His writings reveal hostile-to-Israel viewpoints, including the affinity for boycotts of Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian “Nakba.”