Life, death in balance for Mexico quake survivors

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MEXICO CITY – In a hospital room blocks away from where he survived 26 hours buried under the rubble of his nine-story apartment building, Jose Luis Ponce lay sedated and on a respirator, alive but with fractures to multiple bones and damage to his lungs and a kidney.

"You said you would be with me always," his daughter, Claudia Ponce, 30, told him. "Now is not the moment to leave."

Across town in Mexico City, 58-year-old Julieta Calderas was also clinging to life Saturday morning. Crushed by a human stampede at a popular mall during Tuesday's harrowing 7.1-magnitude quake, doctors warned the family she was essentially brain dead. Still, her niece refused to believe she might not leave the hospital alive.

As rescuers dig through the remnants of 38 collapsed buildings in Mexico City, they have pulled dozens of lifeless bodies from the wreckage but numerous survivors, too. Mexico's marines, considered the nation's most elite troops, said they have recovered 102 bodies and rescued 115 people in the aftermath.

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