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Workers Sift Through Mexican Quake Rubble For Buried Boy

October 6, 1985

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Rescue workers doggedly tunneled through earthquake rubble Sunday for a 9- year-old boy, even after a team of experts with listening devices said they doubted he was still alive.

Parents of the boy, Luis Ramon Nafarrate Maldonado, broke their vigil at the site of the 18th century apartment building where the child was believed trapped by the Sept. 19 earthquake.

Mexico City’s police chief, Gen. Ramon Mota Sanchez, visited the site for about 15 minutes and told reporters: ″It’s not known (if there is life). Nothing can be affirmed. ... There are many opinions of the people working, without any foundation.″

Still, Mota said, the seach will continue ″until we arrive at a definition of the situation.″

He said 26 workers, including firemen, civilians and soldiers, were still working in one tunnel dug to try to reach the boy, who is believed trapped in a bedroom with his grandfather. There were no foreign rescue teams at the site.

Heavy equipment also was being used to try to open another route to the area where the boy might have been trapped.

Mota said the situation as ″confusing″ because a neighboring building crumbled on top of the apartment building.

Julian Abed, a spokesman for the team that had used sophisticated listening equipment in the search Saturday, told reporters, ″Certainly, there is no possibility of life,″

The boy’s parents were not at the site on narrow Venustiano Carranza street Sunday morning, but Ester Nafarrate, an aunt, said they maintained hope.

″It’s not been said he’s dead - probably, but it’s not certain,″ said a man standing next to her who said he was a family friend.

Ruben Montelongo, who volunteered to help in the search on his days off, said ″We trust in God. We hope the boy is alive. Only a miracle could save the lives″ of the boy and his grandfather, Luis Maldonado.

The two were trapped when a powerful earthquake shook the center of the city. That quake registered 8.1 on the Richter scale, and the one the following day measured 7.5.

The government said last weekend that 4,600 died in the quake, and has not updated its toll since then. Newspapers, keeping their own count, put the toll at more than 7,000.

Rescue workers continued clearing away rubble at sites throughout the stricken areas Sunday, occasionally finding bodies that were taken to police stations for possible identification.

The last survivors were freed more than a week ago from the wreckage of collapsed buildings, although a puppy was recovered on Tuesday.

The search for the boy and grandfather began Wednesday afternoon when family members said they believed the two were still alive.

Rescuers insisted they heard tapping sounds in response to their calls and said they had determined the child was buried alive under some 30 feet of wreckage, much of it slabs of reinforced concrete. One worker said he had established voice contact with the boy, but Mota disputed that report.

The building where the child is believed buried is an historical site. A plaque outside says it is the birthplace of Mariano Matamoros, a Roman Catholic priest who was aa hero in the war for independence from Spain.

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