‘Frida Sofia’: The Mexico Earthquake Victim Who Never Was

By evening of the next day, the military, the police and local volunteers had been digging for more than 24 hours. That is when reports emerged of a girl who was alive inside the rubble — a story of hope when a devastated country painfully needed one.

It is unclear who first made the claim, but Televisa, the country’s largest television news network, was the first to air the report. The news was relayed by a reporter, Danielle Dithurbide, who said the information had come from leaders of the rescue teams. She was one of the only reporters allowed inside the police cordon around the building at that point.

In her report, Ms. Dithurbide said that rescuers had told her that a 12-year-old girl was trapped, and that she had been found using a thermal scanner. Rescue teams had made contact with the child, she told viewers, and her name was “Frida Sofia.” Rescuers were withholding the last name, the reporter said.

Later that evening, Ms. Dithurbide interviewed rescuers on camera who spoke of a child trapped alive in the building. In one interview, a man who identified himself only as Artemio and as an “electrician and rescuer” told her that he had heard the voice of a girl. “Yes, some very faint voices of a girl, apparently called Sofi,” he said.

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The Enrique Rébsamen school collapsed on Sept. 20 after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City.

Credit
Miguel Tovar/Associated Press

“I asked, ‘Your name?’” the man said. “She said, ‘Sofi, Sofi.’”

In the early hours of last Thursday, The Associated Press quoted another rescue worker with a similar story. The New York Times, among other news organizations, published this report.

“Rescue worker Raul Rodrigo Hernandez Ayala came out from the site Wednesday night and said that ‘the girl is alive, she has vital signs,’” the news agency reported, “and that five more children had been…

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