Locksmith Martin Mendez was among a group of four trapped in this Mexico City building for 17 hours. The locksmith had been replacing broken locks at an accounting office when the rumbling started around him. He ran to an emergency stairwell, but the floors came down like dominoes, he said.
Within seconds, he became confined to a small space with a broken leg.
Some furniture seemed to have held back debris, preventing it from crashing down on him and the others in the office. "We were there alive. That was the most important thing," Mendez told CNN.
Mendez took a photo of himself while trapped in the collapsed building.
The four calmed each other as the hours passed. They talked about their families and prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Rescuers would yell, "Is anyone in there alive?" but they couldn't hear the group's frantic replies."They couldn't hear us, but we heard them clearly, like if they were just across a window," Mendez said.
Dust would fall on the four of them every time when the rescuers hit the debris with their mallets, causing the group to fear everything would collapse again.Once they were found, the rescue from the wreckage also proved to be nerve-racking. As crews pulled the four out with ropes, they would get stuck in the debris. At points, it was hard to breathe, they recalled.
Mendez is recovering at a hospital after suffering a broken leg in this week's collapse.
With a broken leg, Mendez said he felt an unbearable pain all along but he "had to hold on."
"God pulled me out of there," he said. "It's thanks to God that I'm here."
Pacheco said some of her colleagues at the accounting office could still be trapped in the building.
"I hope they don't stop searching for people," she said.