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Posted: September 24, 2017

Mexico earthquake: 'Frida Sofia,' girl supposedly trapped in rubble, never existed, officials say

More Than 200 Killed In Central Mexico Earthquake

By Jeffrey Caplan, Rare.us

MEXICO CITY —

As rescue workers tirelessly searched and the world waited breathlessly for them to find a 12-year-old girl believed to be trapped under the rubble of a caved-in school toppled by the devastating earthquake in Mexico City, it became apparent that the little girl never existed, Mexican officials said.

>> PHOTOS: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City

According to the New York Post, the girl, called “Frida Sofia,” was a case of a story that ran wild in the frantic aftermath of the disaster.

>> How you can help Mexico and people affected by the Mexico earthquake

“We are certain that it was not an actuality,” Adm. Angel Enrique Sarmiento, assistant secretary of the Mexican navy, told local paper El Universal. “We don’t have any knowledge, we never had any knowledge of the account.”

>> Frida, the hero rescue dog, saves 12 following Mexico earthquake

In the face of unimaginable destruction and hundreds killed, the story took on a life of its own as a symbol of much-needed help. A report first surfaced Wednesday that a little girl had signaled to rescuers from under the rubble of the Enrique Rebsámen school.

>> On Rare.us: A family is devastated after this baptism turned tragic during the Mexican earthquake

From that report came a series of details that included the girl’s name and age, and even reports of communication with the girl. Rescuers said they managed to slide a hose to her for her to drink, and other workers told MSNBC that they handed the little girl a phone and that she reported two other children were trapped with her under a granite table.

>> On Rare.us: Salma Hayek generously pledges $100,000 to Mexican earthquake victims

However, no parents came to claim the girl, which led some to believe she was misidentified. And, then Thursday, Sarmiento announced that after 11 children had been rescued, and 19 other children, plus six adults found dead, there were no other children beneath the collapsed school.

>> Read more trending news

“We have carried out a full count with the directors of the school, and we are sure that all the children are either safe at home, in the hospital or, unfortunately, died,” Sarmiento said.


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Carlos Cisneros/AP

Mexico earthquake: 'Frida Sofia,' girl supposedly trapped in rubble, never existed, officials say

Carlos Cisneros/AP

Mexico earthquake: 'Frida Sofia,' girl supposedly trapped in rubble, never existed, officials say

Rescue workers search for children trapped inside the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. The earthquake stunned central Mexico, killing more than 100 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. (AP Photo/Carlos Cisneros)
Photos: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City

RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Photos: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City

How you can help Mexico and people affected by the Mexico earthquake

A massive magnitude-7.1 earthquake in Mexico City has killed more than 200 people as of Wednesday morning.

>> Read more trending news

Volunteer rescue workers, along with officials and other ordinary citizens, dug through the debris of collapsed buildings, including a three-story primary and secondary school, where they found students dead after Tuesday’s quake.

“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help,” volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano told the Associated Press.

>> Related: Buildings damaged following large earthquake in Mexico City

Tuesday’s earthquake is the deadliest in Mexico since the 1985 quake, which took place on the same date and left thousands dead.

It is also the second devastating earthquake to hit the region in less than two weeks.

A week and a half ago, a magnitude-8.1 quake killed about 90 people.

Here’s how to help Mexico and those affected by the earthquake:

1. Donate clothes, water and food

If you’re nearby the tragedy, donate canned goods to relief or collection centers listed here at Elfinanciero.com.

You can also donate goods to nonprofits on the ground, including UNICEF MexicoRed Cross MexicoSave the Children MexicoOxfam MexicoLa Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico or Project Paz.

2. Make a monetary donation

Consider donating to those nonprofits listed above (UNICEF MexicoRed Cross MexicoSave the Children MexicoOxfam MexicoLa Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico or Project Paz).

Topos Mexico, a Mexican rescue brigade, is also accepting PayPal donations

3. Use social media to spread awareness

A simple retweet could get the right person where they need to be or the right information where it needs to go.

While you’re on social media, consider retweeting aid accounts or locals to connect them to the appropriate resources.

For example, Topos Mexico has been sharing lists of areas where they need professional medical care.

Locals are also tweeting photos of areas where help is needed. Here, someone calls for help on Twitter for a collapsed building in Coquimbo, where many were trapped.

Some have even tweeted about open hospitals and where victims can receive free treatment, such as the emergency room at Hospital Ángeles Pedregal below.

There is also a Google spreadsheet of rescued individuals that’s being shared on social media. 

4. If you’re around, volunteer

Mexico City officials have put together a volunteer coordination site, asking those interested to head to the Emergency Rescue Squad (ERUM) building in Chimalpopoca.

But officials warn volunteers to stick to their nearest disaster zones and avoid entering other zones.

Frida, the hero rescue dog, saves 12 following Mexico earthquake

Frida, a rescue dog from the Mexican navy’s Canine Unit, has made headlines due to her heroic efforts following the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked Mexico City on Tuesday.  

The Los Angeles Times reported that the 7-year-old Labrador has saved more than 50 people since joining the Mexican navy.

>> Read more trending news

Throughout her career, Frida has recovered 52 people, 12 of which were alive, in various natural disasters, including the earthquake that hit in Oaxaca, Mexico, on Sept. 7.

KABC reported that Frida carries a camera on her harness to assist rescue crews as she navigates areas that would not be accessible otherwise.

Because of Frida’s age, the dog typically follows up after younger dogs, including 1-and-a-half-year-olds Evil and Echo, who first go into the rubble. Frida then confirms whether or not other dogs have detected a person, the LA Times reported.

The Navy has dispatched 15 rescue dogs in an effort to find survivors and those who have died. About 270 people have been confirmed dead, and that number will likely rise as Frida and her crew continue their search. 

Salma Hayek pledges $100,000 donation to Mexican earthquake victims

Antony Jones/Getty Images

Salma Hayek pledges $100,000 donation to Mexican earthquake victims

Actress Salma Hayek is giving back to her home country of Mexico in a big way.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard” star, 51, shared a video on Instagram Wednesday encouraging people to donate money toward relief efforts in Mexico City and surrounding areas after they were devastated by a huge earthquake on Tuesday. She also revealed that she has survived a previous natural disaster.

RELATED: Actress Salma Hayek thinks America can learn from and come together during Trump’s presidency

“After the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, I was evacuated from my building,” Hayek said in the video. “A lot of friends died, including an uncle that was very, very close to me.”

“I have lived through the aftermath of a disaster of this magnitude, and it’s horrific,” she continued. “I am starting a Crowdrise to try to raise money to help families who are going through this nightmare right now in Mexico.

“I implore to your hearts ... to your compassion to help,” she added. “Anything that you can give will make a big difference. I will match the first $100,000 that are donated.”

Hayek wrote on Instagram that her donated funds are going to UNICEF.

Buildings damaged following large earthquake in Mexico City

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake caused buildings to sway and break apart in Mexico City on the anniversary of the magnitude 8.0 quake that did major damage in 1985.

>> PHOTOS: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City

Pictures fell from walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over.

Below are the latest images from social media of the damage:

>> Read more trending news

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