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Where buildings fell to quake, memorials rise in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (AP) – On sidewalks, on median strips and amid the brick dust and rubble of buildings that collapsed in Mexico’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, impromptu memorials have sprung up across the capital as it begins to come to terms with its losses.

It is part of a process of grieving, remembering and paying homage to the victims as well as the volunteers and first responders who toiled for days to rescue survivors and recover the bodies of the more than 350 people who died.

In front of the campus of the Tecnologico de Monterrey on the south side of Mexico City, people arranged stuffed plush toys of rams – the university’s mascot – in piles under hand-lettered messages to five students who died Sept. 19.

Flowers, handwritten messages, and a Mexican flag are arranged in a makeshift memorial for earthquake victims, erected by the community in Parque Mexico in the heart of the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. On sidewalks, median strips and amid the brick dust, mud and rubble of the 38 buildings that collapsed in Mexico’s 7.1 earthquake, impromptu memorials to victims and rescuers have sprung up, as the capital begins to come to terms with its losses. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Isaias Medina, 33, visited the memorial with his wife, young son and daughter this week. Medina’s children attend school steps away from the campus, and when the quake struck he rushed to pick them up. They were safe, but falling walkways and walls killed the five college students.

“I was very sad to see the buildings all cracked up in places,” Medina recalled.

“For us, as a family, there is sadness. What happened is a tragedy that you feel in your heart, your soul,” he continued. “But now let’s move forward. As they say, ‘Be strong, Mexico,’ and we’ll get through this.”

To the north, white flowers and wreaths piled up at a previously existing statue of a family a block or two from where a wing of a school building collapsed, killing 19 children and seven adults. Some had taped images of Roman Catholic saints and psalms to a wall, and star-shaped balloons and stuffed animals topped the statue.

The plight of the children trapped in the Enrique Rebsamen school became an international focus of attention during the rescue effort, and messages of support poured from abroad – including from one of soccer’s biggest stars. Lionel Messi, of the Barcelona club, recorded a video dedicated to Leonardo Farias, 8, who was rescued from the school.

“Hello Leo. I wanted to send you a big hello and wish you all the luck. Take good care of yourself.”

At the site of a six-story apartment building that collapsed, killing a dozen people, someone spray-painted on a sheet of plywood fencing: “To the neighbors of 32,” a reference to the street address. Also scrawled on the barrier were the first names of those who died in the building.

On Peten Street, where a seven-floor apartment building collapsed, volunteers left construction helmets they had used during rescue efforts atop a flag at a shrine on the now-cleared lot.

“It is an honor to work with the marines, the city and federal police, students and civil society, all for one purpose,” a volunteer had written on one white helmet.

Where a five-story office and factory near the city center once stood, the rubble has now been cleared and all that’s left is a concrete foundation that traces the building’s footprint.

People left flowers and testimonials scattered among the five-gallon buckets that were used to carefully remove debris in the first days of the rescue. Colorful strips of cloth memorialized the clothing workers who died there, along with a banner reading “Not one more woman.”

“The life of one seamstress is worth all their machines,” read a message painted on the last part of wall still standing.

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 photo, flower wreaths, clothing, sewing supplies and a mannequin make up a memorial honoring those who died at 168 Bolivar Street when the five-story office and factory building was felled by an earthquake, in Mexico City. Businesses were located on four floors of offices at the building. Each business had no more than a half-dozen employees and there were likely no more than 50 people believed to be inside the building when the quake struck. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 photo, flower wreaths, clothing, sewing supplies and a mannequin make up a memorial honoring those who died at 168 Bolivar Street when the five-story office and factory building was felled by an earthquake, in Mexico City. Businesses were located on four floors of offices at the building. Each business had no more than a half-dozen employees and there were likely no more than 50 people believed to be inside the building when the quake struck. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A five-gallon bucket which volunteer rescuers had used to carefully remove rubble in the first days of the rescue attempts serves as a vase for a fresh spray of flowers at 168 Bolivar Street, a collapsed five-story office and factory building in the the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. On sidewalks, median strips and amid the brick dust, mud and rubble of the 38 buildings that collapsed in Mexico's 7.1 earthquake, impromptu memorials to victims and rescuers have sprung up, as the capital begins to come to terms with its losses. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A five-gallon bucket which volunteer rescuers had used to carefully remove rubble in the first days of the rescue attempts serves as a vase for a fresh spray of flowers at 168 Bolivar Street, a collapsed five-story office and factory building in the the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. On sidewalks, median strips and amid the brick dust, mud and rubble of the 38 buildings that collapsed in Mexico’s 7.1 earthquake, impromptu memorials to victims and rescuers have sprung up, as the capital begins to come to terms with its losses. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

In this Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 photo, a framed image of Mexico's patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, makes up part of a memorial for those who died when a five-story office and factory building was collapsed by a recent earthquake on 168 Bolivar Street, in the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City. The rubble from the Sept. 19th earthquake has been cleared, only the concrete foundation with the building's footprint and memorial remain. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

In this Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 photo, a framed image of Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, makes up part of a memorial for those who died when a five-story office and factory building was collapsed by a recent earthquake on 168 Bolivar Street, in the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City. The rubble from the Sept. 19th earthquake has been cleared, only the concrete foundation with the building’s footprint and memorial remain. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 photo, articles of clothing, cloth, and flowers are arranged as part of a memorial for earthquake victims, bearing slogans: "Our lives matter" and "Our bodies are not trash," at 168 Bolivar Street, in the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City. Memorials to victims and rescuers is part of the process of grieving, remembering and paying homage both to the victims and those volunteers and first responders who sacrificed days to rescuing survivors and pulling out the bodies of over 350 people who died when a devastating earthquake hit Mexico on Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 photo, articles of clothing, cloth, and flowers are arranged as part of a memorial for earthquake victims, bearing slogans: “Our lives matter” and “Our bodies are not trash,” at 168 Bolivar Street, in the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City. Memorials to victims and rescuers is part of the process of grieving, remembering and paying homage both to the victims and those volunteers and first responders who sacrificed days to rescuing survivors and pulling out the bodies of over 350 people who died when a devastating earthquake hit Mexico on Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A woman stands before the last remaining bit of wall at 168 Bolivar Street, the site of a collapsed five-story office and factory building felled by the recent earthquake, in Mexico City's Obrera neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. The glass-and-concrete building housed an assortment of Taiwanese toy and technology businesses, along with a clothing company run by an Argentine-born Jewish immigrant, and is where nearly all the foreigners killed in the quake died. The message on the wall reads in Spanish: "the life of one seamstress is worth all their machines." (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A woman stands before the last remaining bit of wall at 168 Bolivar Street, the site of a collapsed five-story office and factory building felled by the recent earthquake, in Mexico City’s Obrera neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. The glass-and-concrete building housed an assortment of Taiwanese toy and technology businesses, along with a clothing company run by an Argentine-born Jewish immigrant, and is where nearly all the foreigners killed in the quake died. The message on the wall reads in Spanish: “the life of one seamstress is worth all their machines.” (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 photo, a wilted rose is propped in the mangled rebar of a six-story building, on the corner of Torreon and Viaducto in Mexico City's Navarate neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Eleven people reportedly died when the mixed-use building collapsed during Mexico's Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 photo, a wilted rose is propped in the mangled rebar of a six-story building, on the corner of Torreon and Viaducto in Mexico City’s Navarate neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Eleven people reportedly died when the mixed-use building collapsed during Mexico’s Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A framed portrait of an unidentified woman and bouquets of white flowers make up part of a memorial at the site of an apartment building at the corner of Division del Norte and Peten, in the Santa Cruz Atoyac neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The seven-story apartment building was felled by the Sept. 19 earthquake, killing several people. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A framed portrait of an unidentified woman and bouquets of white flowers make up part of a memorial at the site of an apartment building at the corner of Division del Norte and Peten, in the Santa Cruz Atoyac neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The seven-story apartment building was felled by the Sept. 19 earthquake, killing several people. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A memorial to victims and rescuers is adorned with a Mexican national flag and construction helmets, at the corner of Division del Norte and Peten, in the Santa Cruz Atoyac neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, the site of a seven-story apartment building collapsed by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake, killing several people. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A memorial to victims and rescuers is adorned with a Mexican national flag and construction helmets, at the corner of Division del Norte and Peten, in the Santa Cruz Atoyac neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, the site of a seven-story apartment building collapsed by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake, killing several people. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A man visits a memorial dedicated to five fellow male students who were killed during the recent earthquake, in front of the college campus of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Memorials to victims and rescuers is part of the process of grieving, remembering and paying homage both to the victims and those volunteers and first responders who sacrificed days to rescuing survivors and pulling out the bodies of over 350 people who died when a devastating earthquake hit Mexico on Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A man visits a memorial dedicated to five fellow male students who were killed during the recent earthquake, in front of the college campus of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Memorials to victims and rescuers is part of the process of grieving, remembering and paying homage both to the victims and those volunteers and first responders who sacrificed days to rescuing survivors and pulling out the bodies of over 350 people who died when a devastating earthquake hit Mexico on Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Stuffed ram plush toys, the college mascot of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, and candles, make up part of a memorial remembering five fellow students who died during the recent earthquake, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Memorials to victims and rescuers is part of the process of grieving, remembering and paying homage both to the victims and those volunteers and first responders who sacrificed days to rescuing survivors and pulling out the bodies of over 350 people who died when in the devastating Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Stuffed ram plush toys, the college mascot of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, and candles, make up part of a memorial remembering five fellow students who died during the recent earthquake, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Memorials to victims and rescuers is part of the process of grieving, remembering and paying homage both to the victims and those volunteers and first responders who sacrificed days to rescuing survivors and pulling out the bodies of over 350 people who died when in the devastating Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Handwritten messages that make up a memorial to fellow students who died in the recent earthquake, blanket a wall in front of the college campus of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The five male students were killed when walkways and walls at the campus collapsed during the Sept. 19 quake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Handwritten messages that make up a memorial to fellow students who died in the recent earthquake, blanket a wall in front of the college campus of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The five male students were killed when walkways and walls at the campus collapsed during the Sept. 19 quake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Prayer cards are taped to a wall near a memorial honoring those who died when a wing of a primary and secondary school collapsed in the recent earthquake, in Mexico City's southern Coapa district, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The memorial is located two blocks away from the Enrique Rebsamen School where 19 children and seven adults died. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Prayer cards are taped to a wall near a memorial honoring those who died when a wing of a primary and secondary school collapsed in the recent earthquake, in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The memorial is located two blocks away from the Enrique Rebsamen School where 19 children and seven adults died. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A police officer directs traffic near a memorial honoring 19 children and seven adults who died when a wing of a primary and secondary school collapsed in the recent earthquake, in Mexico City's southern Coapa district, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The memorial is located two blocks away from the Enrique Rebsamen School where according to the Mexican Navy, 11 children were rescued from the rubble. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A police officer directs traffic near a memorial honoring 19 children and seven adults who died when a wing of a primary and secondary school collapsed in the recent earthquake, in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The memorial is located two blocks away from the Enrique Rebsamen School where according to the Mexican Navy, 11 children were rescued from the rubble. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Flowers serve as an informal memorial at what remains of a seven-story apartment building that collapsed at 107 Amsterdam on the corner with Laredo, in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. At least five people were reportedly pulled out alive from the rubble at 107 Amsterdam, and as many died there when earthquake hit on Sept 19. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Flowers serve as an informal memorial at what remains of a seven-story apartment building that collapsed at 107 Amsterdam on the corner with Laredo, in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. At least five people were reportedly pulled out alive from the rubble at 107 Amsterdam, and as many died there when earthquake hit on Sept 19. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A plywood barrier fence shielding the spot where a six-story apartment building collapsed, killing a dozen people, someone spray-painted on the fence, "to the neighbors of 32," the number of the apartment block that collapsed, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Also spray-painted on the plywood were the first names of those killed when the building pancaked during the Sept 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A plywood barrier fence shielding the spot where a six-story apartment building collapsed, killing a dozen people, someone spray-painted on the fence, “to the neighbors of 32,” the number of the apartment block that collapsed, in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Also spray-painted on the plywood were the first names of those killed when the building pancaked during the Sept 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A piece of paper with a message that reads in Spanish: "Juan Pablo Irigoyen is missing," and a prayer card with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, are fasten to a utility pole with packing tape, on the corner of Escocia and Gabriel Mancera, in the Del Valle neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The body of 19-year-old Irigoyen was recovered from his eight-story apartment building felled by the recent 7.1-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A piece of paper with a message that reads in Spanish: “Juan Pablo Irigoyen is missing,” and a prayer card with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, are fasten to a utility pole with packing tape, on the corner of Escocia and Gabriel Mancera, in the Del Valle neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The body of 19-year-old Irigoyen was recovered from his eight-story apartment building felled by the recent 7.1-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

An improvised memorial of flowers and candles sprouted on the corner of Torreon and Viaducto continues to grow in size, in Mexico City's Navarate neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Eleven people reportedly died when the six-story, mixed-use building collapsed during Mexico's Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

An improvised memorial of flowers and candles sprouted on the corner of Torreon and Viaducto continues to grow in size, in Mexico City’s Navarate neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Eleven people reportedly died when the six-story, mixed-use building collapsed during Mexico’s Sept. 19 earthquake. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

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