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Mexico Official: Warnings Over School Ignored Before Quake

  • Associated Press

Investigative police officers inspect a part of the Enrique Rebsamen school that collapsed during last week's 7.1 magnitude quake in Mexico City, Sept. 26, 2017.

A Mexico City borough president said late Thursday that officials from a previous administration ignored warnings that unauthorized construction work on a school that collapsed during the September 19 earthquake had damaged the building structurally.

The school became a symbol of the tragedy when a three-story wing of the building pancaked, killing 26 people including 19 children. Photos over the years suggested an increasingly heavy fourth story had been gradually added to the wing.

Borough president Claudia Sheinbaum said inspectors issued a report in November 2013 and warned the borough's judicial director at the time that work on the third floor and illegally added fourth floor were "damaging structural elements that affect the stability of the building.''

The privately operated elementary and middle school was apparently allowed to complete the work by paying a fine equivalent to about $1,600 at the time.

Sheinbaum called that "outrageous'' and said she has filed a criminal complaint against the former judicial director, a person who held the same post later and "whoever else may be responsible.''

Sheinbaum, who took office in 2015, has said there was unauthorized expansion work at the school since around 2010.

The death toll in the magnitude 7.1 quake has continued to inch upward as the last bodies are pulled from the rubble and now stands at 345.

National Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente said late Thursday on Twitter that most of the casualties 206, were in Mexico City.

Most of the debris has been cleared away from the 38 sites where buildings collapsed in the capital, leaving only a few active recovery efforts.

There were also fatalities in the states of Morelos, Puebla, Mexico State, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

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