THE Philippines yesterday offered its sympathies and prayers to Mexico after a powerful earthquake rocked the capital past noon on Tuesday, leaving hundreds dead and injured.
The death toll from the earthquake had surged to 248 people, the head of the national disaster response agency, Luis Felipe Puente, said on Twitter.
The dead included at least 21 children crushed beneath a primary school that collapsed on Mexico City’s south side during the 7.1-magnitude quake, authorities said.
Well after nightfall, rescue crews and volunteers in Mexico City — home to 20 million people — were still clawing through the rubble of dozens of collapsed buildings looking for survivors and bodies.
Local media reported that families were getting WhatsApp messages pleading for help from desperate relatives trapped under debris.
Memories of the devastating 1985 earthquake, which killed at least 10,000 people, surged to the surface on what was meant to be a low-key 32nd anniversary.
Adding to the national sense of vulnerability, the quake also came just 12 days after another temblor that killed nearly 100 people and left more than 200 injured, mainly in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said so far, the DFA said the Embassy has not received reports of any Filipino casualty.
The magnitude 7.1 temblor sent a number of structures crumbling and left many others, including the building housing the Philippine Embassy, badly damaged.
Despite the damage the Embassy sustained, Filipino diplomats were able to check the condition of the 60-member Filipino Community in Mexico City to make sure all are safe and accounted for.
“The people of Mexico are again in our thoughts and prayers today,” Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement from New York where he is attending the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“We offer our sympathies to the Mexican Government and to those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy,” Cayetano added.
The Secretary also said he is thankful that Ambassador Eduardo de Vega and the other members of the embassy staff were able to make their way out of the chancery unhurt.
“We are all a bit shaken but otherwise all of us from the Embassy are all right,” De Vega said in a text message to Cayetano.
De Vega said he and most of the 11-member staff rushed out of the embassy when debris started falling from the walls and ceiling shortly after the earthquake struck.
The ambassador said the Embassy occupies the first two floors of an eight-story office building in the Cuauhtemoc neighborhood near the city center.
It was the second earthquake De Vega experienced within a two-week period.
The Filipino envoy was attending an official function in Oaxaca province on September 7 when a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the region and killed at least 54 people.