A man is pulled out of the rubble alive in Mexico City on September 20.
Frenzy as people are heard trapped under rubble
02:10 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Death toll from central Mexico earthquake rises to 286

Official: All students have been accounted for at collapsed school

Mexico City CNN  — 

A Mexican navy official has apologized for confusion over reports that a 12-year-old girl was trapped alive after a Mexico City school collapsed in the wake of a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that killed more than 280 people nationwide.

Those reports had riveted Mexicans pulling for an uplifting rescue when the temblor damaged the Enrique Rebsamen school Tuesday.

Rescue workers said Wednesday they believed they’d made contact with a girl trapped in the rubble at the school, where at least 19 children and six adults were killed.

For more than a day, rescuers told reporters they were trying to reach and free the girl – efforts that were shown live on television.

But by Thursday afternoon, navy official Angel Enrique Sarmiento said all the school’s children had been accounted for – either having died, been hospitalized or found safe – and there was no student known to be in the rubble.

A look at the Enrique Rebsamen elementary school in Mexico City, which collapsed in the earthquake. The after photo on the right is from Wednesday, September 20, when rescuers continued to search through the rubble.

Google Earth/Getty Images

Sarmiento, deputy navy secretary, followed up with an apology Thursday night, while emphasizing that someone still could be alive in the debris.

“I want to make it very clear that the information the Mexican public received about the existence of a girl who was alive underneath the rubble was released by the navy based on the technical reports and the accounts of the civilian and navy rescuers,” he said.

“I offer the Mexican public an apology for the information disseminated (Thursday) afternoon where I affirmed that I did not have details about a supposed child survivor in this tragedy.”

A search of the school continues, though the last time a body was found – that of a 58-year-old woman, the navy said – was Thursday morning.