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Mexican search-and-rescue team on hold near Florida high-rise disaster

Published 06/30/2021, 06:14 PM
Updated 06/30/2021, 07:34 PM
© Reuters. Members of Mexican Topos Azteca rescue team wait for access to the site of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue the search and rescue operations for survivors, in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. June 30, 202

By Katanga Johnson

SURFSIDE, Fl. (Reuters) -Seven Mexican search-and-rescue volunteers who flew to Florida to help after a residential high-rise near Miami collapsed have been barred from the disaster site because of U.S. restrictions.

A number of Mexican search-and-rescue groups called 'topos' - which means 'moles' - emerged from local rescue efforts after the devastating 1985 earthquake that hit Mexico City. Since then, Mexican teams have responded to disasters around the world.

"We pray that we would be granted permissions to access the rubble and help the missing persons," said Adrian Salvador Aguirre Macias, 46, who has volunteered with Los Topos Azteca for 14 years.

"There will be a time when they ask for our help and that is when we will go in calmly, to do what we know how to do."

Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky, asked during a news conference Tuesday about Los Topos Azteca, said, "I know everybody wants to help, but we need to make sure we have the properly trained individuals to do the job. The Mexican group will be assisting in different ways."

© Reuters. Members of Mexican Topos Azteca rescue team wait for access to the site of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue the search and rescue operations for survivors, in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. June 30, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Natalia Barraza of Los Topos Azteca said members of the group had not spoken to Cominsky.

"The fire chief is in charge of the operation and if he said that we will help in some other way, we are at his orders and are willing to help in any way," she said Wednesday. "We will continue to follow up on the necessary paperwork."

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