Church collapse kills 11 including baby in Mexico earthquake tragedy

Rescuers work at the site of a collapsed building after an earthquake in Mexico City, September 20, 2017.Reuters

During a child's baptism, 11 members of one family died including the two-month-old girl being christened when the roof of a church collapsed during the major earthquake that struck central Mexico on Tuesday.

The only survivors at the Santiago Apostol church were the girl's father, the priest and the priest's assistant, according to the Archdiocese of Puebla. At least four minors were among the dead.

'It was a scene of horror, sadness with most of the people inside the church dying,' the priest's assistant Lorenzo Sanchez told the Associated Press (AP).

He said that those who survived moved to the edges of the church when the swaying started, while those who died did not have time to do so.

'One of the things they taught us is to stick to the firm walls of our church, which is old and its structure a bit deteriorated,' Sanchez said.

AP reported that when the ground stopped shaking, people called for help using loudspeakers and residents of nearby communities quickly arrived in Atzala with shovels, pickaxes and chains to haul away rubble.

The locals dug for hours through the crumbling remains of the church but eventually found that the 11 relatives had died.

The exhausted rescuers laid the bodies out on the same street where a party was meant to be held after the baptism, covering them with canvas to protect against the rain.

Family members of the dead traveled overnight from other states to attend Wednesday's wake in Puebla, the state capital.

There was a name attacked to each coffin: Florencio, Fidela, Aurelia, Manuela, Maria de Jesus, Carmen, Samuel, Azucena, Feliciana, Susana and Elideth — the girl who was to be baptized.

The magnitude 7.1 quakeon Tuesday was centered in Puebla state, where it killed more than 40 people. Across the whole of Mexico it killed at least 217 people.

In Mexico City, rescue efforts continued yesterday at a primary and secondary school where 25 bodies had been found and a young girl was located alive amid the rubble.

Pope Francis yesterday prayed for those affected. 'Yesterday a terrible earthquake has devastated Mexico. I saw that there are many Mexicans here today among you. It caused numerous victims and material damages,' the Pope said in Spanish after the General Audience in Rome.

'In this moment of sorrow I want to express my closeness and prayer to all the beloved Mexican population. Let us all raise our prayers together to God so that he may welcome into his bosom those who have lost their lives, comfort the wounded, their families and all those affected.'