Memo­ri­als spring up at Mex­ico City’s quake col­lapse sites

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Nation&world - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

MEX­ICO CITY — On side­walks, on me­dian strips and amid the brick dust and rub­ble of build­ings that col­lapsed in Mex­ico’s mag­ni­tude 7.1 earth­quake, im­promptu memo­ri­als have sprung up across the cap­i­tal as it be­gins to come to terms with its losses.

It is part of a process of griev­ing, re­mem­ber­ing and pay­ing homage to the vic­tims as well as the vol­un­teers and first re­spon­ders who toiled for days to res­cue sur­vivors and re­cover the bodies of the more than 350 peo­ple who died.

In front of the cam­pus of the Tec­no­logico de Mon­ter­rey on the south side of Mex­ico City, peo­ple ar­ranged stuffed plush toys of rams — the univer­sity’s mas­cot — in piles un­der hand-let­tered mes­sages to five stu­dents who died Sept. 19.

Isa­ias Me­d­ina, 33, vis­ited the me­mo­rial with his wife, young son and daugh­ter this week. Me­d­ina’s chil­dren at­tend school steps away from the cam­pus, and when the quake struck he rushed to pick them up. They were safe, but fall­ing walk­ways and walls killed the five col­lege stu­dents.

“I was very sad to see the build­ings all cracked up in places,” Me­d­ina re­called.

“For us, as a fam­ily, there is sad­ness. What hap­pened is a tragedy that you feel in your heart, your soul,” he con­tin­ued. “But now let’s move for­ward. As they say, ‘Be strong, Mex­ico,’ and we’ll get through this.”

To the north, white flow­ers and wreaths piled up at a pre­vi­ously ex­ist­ing statue of a fam­ily a block or two from where a wing of a school build­ing col­lapsed, killing 19 chil­dren and seven adults. Some had taped im­ages of Ro­man Catholic saints and psalms to a wall, and star-shaped bal­loons and stuffed an­i­mals topped the statue.

The plight of the chil­dren trapped in the En­rique Reb­samen school be­came an in­ter­na­tional fo­cus of at­ten­tion dur­ing the res­cue ef­fort, and mes­sages of sup­port poured from abroad — in­clud­ing from one of soc­cer’s big­gest stars. Lionel Messi, of the Barcelona club, recorded a video ded­i­cated to Leonardo Farias, 8, who was res­cued from the school.

“Hello Leo. I wanted to send you a big hello and wish you all the luck. Take good care of your­self.”

At the site of a six-story apart­ment build­ing that col­lapsed, killing a dozen peo­ple, some­one spray­painted on a sheet of ply­wood fenc­ing: “To the neigh­bors of 32,” a ref­er­ence to the street ad­dress. Also scrawled on the bar­rier were the first names of those who died in the build­ing.

On Peten Street, where a seven-floor apart­ment build­ing col­lapsed, vol­un­teers left con­struc­tion hel­mets they had used dur­ing res­cue ef­forts atop a flag at a shrine on the now­cleared lot.

“It is an honor to work with the marines, the city and fed­eral po­lice, stu­dents and civil so­ci­ety, all for one pur­pose,” a vol­un­teer had writ­ten on one white hel­met.

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