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A rattled Mexico starts to pick up the pieces after deadly quake

Desperation set in Saturday as Mexico reeled from a pair of deadly disasters that struck the country on both coasts.

Recovery efforts were underway near the epicenter of one of the most powerful earthquakes to ever hit the nation. The massive 8.1 quake killed at least 90, authorities said.

Rescuers scoured the rubble left after hundreds of buildings were toppled in the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca, where many are feared trapped under stone and concrete.

The quake struck off the southern Pacific coast just before midnight Thursday.

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Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto declared three days of national mourning.

Simultaneously, officials were readying for the possibility of flooding and landslides along the eastern coast after Hurricane Katia made landfall late Friday as a Category 1 storm.

Torrential rains pounded the villages of Veracruz, where two people were killed by a mudslide, according to Gov. Miguel Angel.

The Hurricane Center said Katia could still bring 3 to 6 inches of additional rain to a region prone to deadly flooding.

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The earthquake killed at least 49 people in Oaxaca state, 12 in Chiapas and 4 in Tabasco.

Rescuers scoured the rubble left after thousands of buildings were toppled in the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca, where many are feared trapped under stone and concrete.

Rescuers scoured the rubble left after thousands of buildings were toppled in the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca, where many are feared trapped under stone and concrete.

(VICTORIA RAZO/AFP/Getty Images)

The death toll included 37 people killed in Juchitan, a city of 70,000 where a hospital and about half the city hall also collapsed into a heap.

Rescue teams used dogs to search for survivors.

The sound of backhoes and other heavy machinery being used to pull debris away from the buildings echoed through the town square.

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The body of a missing police officer was found Saturday afternoon in a collapsed passageway between the city hall and a market, a guard at the site told The Associated Press.

As crews worked through the night, many residents slept outside out of fear of aftershocks.

“We are all collapsed, our homes and our people,” said Rosa Elba Ortiz Santiago, 43, who rested on a chair next to her teenage son. “We are used to earthquakes, but not of this magnitude.”

Funeral processions wound through the streets of Juchitan on Saturday, mourners sidestepping wreckage and rubble as they reached the cemetery.

A somber memorial service was held for Reynalda Matus Martinez in her living room.

Her son, Paulo Cesar Escamilla Matus, and his family bowed their heads and wept beside her body.

The 64-year-old worked the night shift at a neighborhood pharmacy which kept its doors locked to deter criminals.

“All the weight of the second floor fell on top of her,” said Escamilla Matus.

He had to wait more than 24 hours for civil workers to use a backhoe to recover his mother’s body.

There was some hope among the calamity as four people, including two children, were found alive in the ruins of the collapsed Hotel Del Rio.

“The priority continues to be the people,” said the city’s civil defense coordinator, Jose Antonio Marin Lopez.

With News Wire Services 

Tags:
mexico
earthquakes
enrique pena nieto

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