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

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.

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.