Workers Pull Last Known Victim from Hotel, Death Toll at 51
MANZANILLO, Mexico AP) _ Rescuers today found the last known victim in the rubble of a Pacific resort hotel flattened by an earthquake whose aftershocks have continued to topple houses and terrorize survivors.
The death toll from Monday’s quake rose to 51 when workers recovered the body of hotel receptionist Alma Angelica Martinez Zepeda, 21, a few feet from where the lobby exit had been. Survivors said she was running for the door when the Costa Real hotel collapsed.
On Thursday searchers had unearthed four bodies in the wreckage, including that of a 7-year-old boy who they said apparently had died only hours before they reached him.
``That’s the most frustrating part. To think we could have gotten him out alive,″ said rescuer Rafael Lopez.
Rescuers said the receptionist was the last person known to have been unaccounted for, but that they would keep looking for other victims.
The eight-story hotel is now a mound of debris, cracked columns and the strewn belongings of vacationers who died when the magnitude-7.1 temblor rattled 200 miles of western Mexico in Colima and Jalisco states.
Hundreds of workers have been working day and night to pick through the remnants of the 56-room hotel. They started at the top and worked down, finding 30 bodies along the way.
On Thursday they were close to the lobby, where many people are believed to have been at the time of the quake. But rescuers held out little hope of finding any of them alive.
At least two strong aftershocks, including one just before midnight, knocked down homes and buildings already damaged by the earthquake on Monday.
No serious injuries or deaths were reported, but the aftershocks, which have numbered nearly 30 since the quake, are terrifying residents of Manzanillo, a popular tourist town where the movie ``10″ was filmed.
``Nobody sleeps inside their homes these days,″ said Jesus Martinez, a taxi driver. ``Nothing like this has ever happened here. Maybe God is punishing Mexico.″
Blankets, water, powdered milk and clothing began to arrive Thursday in many poor communities where hundreds of families suffered serious damage to their homes. Dozens of makeshift shelters have sprouted throughout Colima and Jalisco _ in soccer fields, stadiums and schools.