Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Hour after excruciating hour, Mexicans were transfixed by dramatic efforts to reach a young girl thought buried in the rubble of a school destroyed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. She reportedly wiggled her fingers, told rescuers her name and said there were others trapped near her. Rescue workers called for tubes, pipes and other tools to reach her.

News media, officials and volunteer rescuers all repeated the story of “Frida Sofia” with a sense of urgency that made it a national drama, drawing attention away from other rescue efforts across the quake-stricken city and leaving people in Mexico and abroad glued to their television sets.

But she never existed, Mexican navy officials now say.

“We want to emphasize that we have no knowledge about the report that emerged with the name of a girl,” navy Assistant Secretary Angel Enrique Sarmiento said Thursday. “We never had any knowledge about that report, and we do not believe — we are sure — it was not a reality.”

Sarmiento said a camera lowered into the rubble of the Enrique Rebsamen school showed blood tracks where an injured person apparently dragged himself or herself, and the only person still listed as missing was a school employee. But it was just blood tracks — no fingers wiggling, no voice, no name. Several dead people have been removed from the rubble, and it could have been their fingers rescuers thought they saw move.

Sarmiento later apologized for being so categorical, saying that if a person is still trapped it could be a child or an adult.

“The information existing at this moment doesn’t allow us to say if it is an adult or a child,” Sarmiento said. “As long as there is the slightest possibility of someone alive, we will continue searching with the same energy.” (AP)

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Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

A member of the Mexican Army raises his hand asking for absolute silence as rescue services and volunteers search for victims under the debris of the school that collapsed in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Jose Mendez/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue services and volunteers search for victims under the debris of the school that collapsed in the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, 21 September 2017. (Photo: Jose Mendez/EFE via ZUMA Press)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue services and volunteers raise their hands to ask for absolute silence during their search for victims under the debris of the school that collapsed in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Jose Mendez/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Members of a rescue team hold a fellow rescuer from the Topos volunteer search and rescue group by his feet during the search for students at the Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Support beams are placed on a crumbling wall of a room during the search for students at the Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Search and rescue team members work to bring down a large piece of concrete during rescue efforts at the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Mexico, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Anthony Vazquez/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

A Marine holds on to a support beam as he waits for the beam to be tightened during rescue efforts at the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Anthony Vazquez/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

A ladder is raised to search and rescue team members during rescue efforts at the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Mexico, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Anthony Vazquez/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Volunteers gather during the search for students at the Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Soldiers stand near parts of a collapsed school building during a search for students at the Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

A rescue worker searches through rubble in a floodlit search for students at Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Mexico Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

A Marine directs movement of supplies during rescue efforts at the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Anthony Vazquez/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Workers reinforce a balcony during a search for students at the Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue personnel work on the rescue of a trapped child at the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen primary schoool in Mexico City, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Marco Ugarte/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

A dog is held by a rescue worker during the search for students at Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescuers and members of Mexican Army search for survivors at the Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, capital of Mexico, on Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Montse Lopez Flores/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Family members of the Enrique Rebsamen school victims embrace one day after the magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted central Mexico damaging buildings, knocking out power and causing alarm throughout the capital on Sept. 20, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Christian Palma/Getty Images)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue workers transport a tent as they search for students through the rubble at Enrique Rebsamen school after an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rodrigo Arelia, a student who escaped from the rubble of his Enrique Rebsamen school, stands outside the building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Marco Ugarte/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Volunteers and rescue workers search for children trapped inside the Enrique Rebsamen school, collapsed by a 7.1 earthquake in southern Mexico City, Wednesday Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Miguel Tovar/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue workers search for people trapped in a collapsed building in the Piedad Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Photo: Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Rescue workers remove a dead body after searching through rubble in a floodlit search for students at Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Volunteers and rescue personnel work on the remains of a collapsed primary school after a 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Photo: Marco Ugarte/AP)

Rescue workers race to find survivors at collapsed Mexico City school

Volunteers bring pieces of wood to help prop up sections of the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school, as rescue workers search for children trapped inside, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.(Photo: Carlos Cisneros/AP)