The story of a 12-year-old girl trapped beneath the rubble of her school after the Mexico earthquake became a symbol of hope.
Millions remained glued to their TVs as rescuers apparently spent hours painstakingly making their way towards ‘Frida Sofia’.
She was said to have waved her hand and managed to tell rescuers her name, age and that there were others nearby.
The rescue mission gripped a country reeling from the 7.1magnitude quake that killed at least 230 people.
But as the hours drifted on, the updates became less and less frequent, and then increasingly confusing.
The Education Secretary came on a TV channel to concede no family members had come forward to await Frida’s rescue.
There was some suggestion her name may have been misheard.
But then finally, navy assistant secretary, Enrique Sarmiento, suddenly announced that all the school’s children had been accounted for.
“We want to emphasize that we have no knowledge about the report that emerged with the name of a girl,” Sarmiento added.
“We do not believe – we are sure – it was not a reality.”
Hope then turned to outrage as the Mexican public accused the government and media of spinning a story to deflect from questions over how the disaster has been handled.
Televisa, the channel which broke the story and reported live from the scene for hours, claimed they were fed false information.
“The federal government always told us there was a girl and they were about to rescue her. Now they changed their version. Outrageous,” anchor Carlos Loret de Mola tweeted .
Danielle Dithurbide, the reporter who broke the story, tweeted: “For those asking, in a good or bad way, I’m continuing at the school, resting for a few hours and I will continue until this story has an end.”
Some compared the fiasco to the story of Monchito, a nine-year-old boy who supposedly died in the earthquake that hit Mexico in 1985.
He was never found and it remains unclear if he was invented by the government, the product of mass hysteria or just another tragic victim who disappeared into the earth.