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In quake-torn Mexican town, amputee toils to clear debris

JOJUTLA, Mexico (AP) – Hector Rodarte Cedillo, a 27-year-old window washer and candy salesman, lost his right leg below the knee seven years ago when a car ran him over.

That hasn’t stopped him from toiling long hours in a brigade of civilian volunteers searching for survivors, aiding the injured and clearing the rubble of buildings that collapsed in Jojutla during last week’s deadly earthquake.

Rodarte leans his crutches against a white Volkswagen Beetle before he puts his heavily tattooed arms to work lifting and tossing bricks and twisted metal. Clad in a neon orange vest, a white construction helmet and dirty jeans, he keeps his balance by bracing the stump of his leg on pieces of debris.

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte, right, helps salvage personal items from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte lost his right leg below the knee seven years ago when a car ran him over. That hasn’t stopped him from toiling in a brigade of civilian volunteers clearing the rubble of quake-collapsed buildings in his home town. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

Rodarte and the other members of the “9th Brigade” roam the streets helping residents retrieve family photos and other belongings from damaged homes on the verge of imploding altogether. He works all day, only pausing at night to sleep.

Helping others “is something that is born from the bottom of my heart,” Rodarte said.

Jojutla, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of the Mexican capital, is one of the places hit hardest by Tuesday’s quake, which killed more than 300 people.

At least a dozen died in the town, hundreds of its homes lie in ruins and many more are damaged beyond repair and slated for demolition.

“We will be here lending a hand until we are finished, until Jojutla recovers,” Rodarte said.

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte takes a break as he helps recover personal items from neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte and the other members of the his brigade roam the streets helping residents retrieve family photos and other belongings from damaged homes on the verge of imploding altogether. He works all day, only pausing at night to sleep. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte takes a break as he helps recover personal items from neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte and the other members of the his brigade roam the streets helping residents retrieve family photos and other belongings from damaged homes on the verge of imploding altogether. He works all day, only pausing at night to sleep. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte poses for a photo at a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Helping others "is something that is born from the bottom of my heart," Rodarte said. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte poses for a photo at a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Helping others “is something that is born from the bottom of my heart,” Rodarte said. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte, right, helps salvage personal items from a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte keeps his balance by bracing the stump of his leg on rubble. Rodarte says helping others "is something that is born from the bottom of my heart." (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte, right, helps salvage personal items from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte keeps his balance by bracing the stump of his leg on rubble. Rodarte says helping others “is something that is born from the bottom of my heart.” (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte helps salvage personal items from a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Hundreds of homes in Jojutla lie in ruins, and many more are damaged beyond repair and slated for demolition. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte helps salvage personal items from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Hundreds of homes in Jojutla lie in ruins, and many more are damaged beyond repair and slated for demolition. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte's crutches lean against a Volkswagen Beetle as he helps to salvage personal items from a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. At least a dozen people died in Jojutla, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of the nation's capital. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte’s crutches lean against a Volkswagen Beetle as he helps to salvage personal items from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. At least a dozen people died in Jojutla, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of the nation’s capital. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte takes a swig from a water bottle during a break from salvaging a neighbor's personal items from his home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico.  Rodarte puts his heavily tattooed arms to work lifting and tossing bricks and twisted metal. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte takes a swig from a water bottle during a break from salvaging a neighbor’s personal items from his home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte puts his heavily tattooed arms to work lifting and tossing bricks and twisted metal. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte, right, helps to salvage personal items from a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Rodarte lost his right leg below the knee seven years ago when a car ran him over. That hasn't stopped him from toiling in a brigade of civilian volunteers clearing the rubble of quake-collapsed buildings in his home town. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte, right, helps to salvage personal items from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Rodarte lost his right leg below the knee seven years ago when a car ran him over. That hasn’t stopped him from toiling in a brigade of civilian volunteers clearing the rubble of quake-collapsed buildings in his home town. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte helps to salvage furniture from a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico.  Rodarte usually works as a window washer and candy salesman. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte helps to salvage furniture from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. Rodarte usually works as a window washer and candy salesman. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte helps to salvage personal items from a neighbor's home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. "We will be here lending a hand until we are finished," Rodarte said, "until Jojutla recovers." (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Hector Rodarte helps to salvage personal items from a neighbor’s home, destroyed in a 7.1 earthquake, in Jojutla, Morelos state, Mexico. “We will be here lending a hand until we are finished,” Rodarte said, “until Jojutla recovers.” (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

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