“Are my children O.K.?” cried Mr. Peralta, trapped kneeling in the debris, his arms around Esteban.
Those would be his last words. Neighbors converged on the house to help Ms. Pérez free the family, but Mr. Peralta died a couple of hours later at the town’s clinic, which operated that night with no electricity.
Esteban, who was injured, was taken with his mother to the state capital, Oaxaca, where on Sunday he was operated on for a fractured hip. He had yet to be told that he has lost his father.
Like Ms. Pérez, the residents of Ixtaltepec, where 10 people died, had to manage on their own for the first day after the earthquake. Help was initially concentrated in Juchitán, a city of 100,000, because the need there was so great.
But every street of Ixtaltepec bore the mark of the quake’s destruction. And for those who had been spared the loss of loved ones, there was a scramble for food and water.
Hundreds crowded at a makeshift shelter set up on an outdoor dance floor covered by a roof of galvanized steel, grateful for the tamales, rice and beans that volunteers handed out. Elsewhere in the town, people served food from the back of cars and trucks.
“We have no idea how we are going to rebuild the entire town,” said María Luisa Matus, a state official coordinating efforts at the shelter, where rice, bottled water and toilet paper were stacked in piles. “But that is just very low on our list of priorities right now,” she said. She needed packages of food and other necessities for 3,000 families in Ixtaltepec.
And she had another worry as nightfall approached.
Residents had spent two nights outside, on the crumpled sidewalks outside their houses and in their backyard patios, or clustering in basketball courts and parking lots. “It’s going to rain tonight, so we need mattresses” for people to sleep in shelters, she said.
Even in Juchitán, officials had to improvise. Doctors and nurses made do in a small gymnasium as families of the injured pleaded for help.
The main regional hospital in Juchitán was destroyed in the earthquake, and the injured were slowly being transferred to other cities. For those who had not been moved, help was rudimentary.
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