Children trapped in school rubble send desperate text messages for help after Mexico earthquake

Parents are hopeful their children will be found alive after a schoolteacher and two students sent text messages from beneath the rubble of a school in Mexico City.

At least 21 children have been killed after a three-storey wing of the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City collapsed during the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday.

Search crews are frequently pausing for “moments of absolute silence” as they listen for trapped survivors’ cries and banging on walls.

The death toll currently stands at 217 and there are grave fears for the 30 children still missing inside the crumbled primary school.

Rescuers worked throughout the night in search of survivors. Source: AP

Armed with picks, shovels and their bare hands, hundreds of neighbours and volunteers were joined by rescue dogs as they worked through the night in a desperate search for survivors.

Adriana Fargo is nervously waiting for news on the fate of her seven-year-old daughter, feared buried in the earthquake-hit remains of a Mexico City elementary and middle school.

"No one can possibly imagine the pain I'm in right now," Ms Fargo said.

Volunteers bring pieces of wood to help prop up sections of the collapsed school. Source: AP

Volunteers relay debris away from the quake hit school. Source: Reuters

After sunrise Wednesday there was a glimmer of hope amid the torture of uncertainty: rescuers confirmed that they located a girl alive and trapped in the rubble.

There was a call for absolute silence as the rescuers slid a thermal scanner down a narrow crack where they had made contact with the child.

"We are very, very close to people who could be alive. We're working with thermal cameras and canine units," volunteer rescuer Pamela Diaz said.

"We keep moments of absolute silence to listen for survivors. They tend to cry out or bang on walls."

Another rescuer, 42 year-old Flor Gonzalez, gave a grim description her experience.

Volunteers relay buckets filled with debris away from the school. Source: AP

"Last night I counted five cadavers that were removed from the school," she said.

"I saw when they notified one of the parents... it was devastating."

A third rescuer said there were possibly 20 children trapped inside a classroom with a teacher, but added there appeared to be nine lifeless bodies in the debris.

A rescuer calls for silence during the search for missing children. Source: AP

Up to now, 11 children and at least one teacher have been pulled alive from the rubble.

However, rescuers also pulled out 26 lifeless bodies – all but five of them children, said rescue coordinator Jose Luis Vergara.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who rushed to the site late Tuesday, warned that the death toll could rise.