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Mexico extends search for quake survivors

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Rescuers are unlikely to find any more survivors of Mexico’s earthquake still buried in the ruins and will cease operations to find them at the end of Thursday, the emergency services chief said.

Tuesday marks one week since the 7.1 magnitude quake struck around lunchtime, killing 326 people, damaging 11,000 homes, and leading to a outpouring of civilian volunteers to aid and comfort the victims.

Luis Felipe Puente, coordinator of Mexico’s Civil Protection agency, told Reuters that rescuers would continue working at four sites but that they would hand-pick through the debris until Thursday.

“I can say that at this time it would be unlikely to find someone alive,” Puente said, considering that specially-trained dogs have yet to pick up the scent of survivors.

Forty-three people were still missing, including 40 who may have been trapped beneath a collapsed office building in the Roma district of Mexico City, Puente said. One person was believed missing at each of three other sites in the capital.

Asked how much longer search and rescue operations would continue, the official responded, “As of today (Monday), we have agreed to another 72 hours.”

The week began with signs that Mexico was resuming its routine as the streets filled with traffic and more than 44,000 schools in six states reopened.

But in the capital city, only 103 of the more than 8,000 public and private schools resumed classes.

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