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USAID: US rescuers pull 10 survivors out of Haiti’s rubble

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, January 18, 2010 21:49 EDT
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Search and rescue teams from the United States on Sunday pulled a record 10 people alive from the rubble of quake-struck Port-au-Prince, according to the US Agency for International Development.

“According to rescue officials, this is the largest number of rescues in a single day in decades of earthquake search and rescue efforts,” USAID said on Monday.

The ten survivors were brought out of the rubble alive by three US teams from Los Angeles and Miami, Florida, the agency said.

A fourth US team from Fairfax, Virginia also is working in Port-au-Prince.

USAID said that as of early Monday, 39 people had been saved by more than 500 US rescuers on the ground in Haiti, while another 71 were saved by international rescue teams.

USAID said its rescuers were looking for survivors at numerous locations throughout Port-au-Prince and would continue in “full rescue mode” through Tuesday.

“We are hopeful we will find still more individuals,” a said a statement by USAID Senior Regional Adviser Tim Callaghan.

Officials said Monday that 43 international teams comprising 1,739 rescue workers and 161 dogs have scoured 60 percent of the worst affected areas hit by the earthquake.

Babies pulled from rubble

Nurses at Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital clapped heartily as they welcomed Monday a baby girl pulled from the rubble six days after the earthquake that struck Haiti and destroyed her home.

The child, believed to be just 18 months old, was covered with dust but otherwise appeared healthy. No one knew her name and rescuers believe her family died when her home collapsed.

“This is incredible,” said a nurse that held the baby, carefully cleaning her body and giving her water. “She has no injuries. Only a child is able to survive six days in this condition.”

The unnamed girl is the second baby to be unearthed in Haiti in as many days.

Medics at an Israeli field hospital outside the capital have also treated Jean-Louis Brahms, an eight-month-old baby trapped for five days under what used to be his house.

The baby’s father and older brother escaped the house in time and sustained only minor injuries, but Jean-Louis remained trapped under the rubble for days until a neighbor heard him crying and contacted UN peacekeepers.

The child’s mother said she had been back to the home several times. “I waited, called for him, and there was no answer.

“I could not stay there, I could not accept that he was dead and buried in the rubble, so I left,” she said, choking back her tears.

“When I look at him now I cry out of happiness and believe in God more than ever,” she said. “I had lost all hope of finding him alive.”

Jean-Louis was close to death when he was rescued and had to be revived, said Amit Assa, an Israeli doctor at the field hospital. Related article: CNN star performs brain surgery

“He only reacted to the antibiotics hours later,” said Assa.

“It’s incredible that he is alive after five days without water, without food and in this heat.”

However one of the infant’s legs was crushed and gangrene had set in. “We don’t know if we can save it,” Assa said.

The Israeli field hospital has treated some 250 victims, the vast majority of the them pulled found in the collapsed ruins of the city. Eighty have been children, mostly dazed orphans struggling to grasp what has happened.

Even the adults found in the utter destruction that littered the capital found the reality hard to bear. Perhaps it is better to be young, not to understand the scale of the catastrophe. Related article: Haiti relief surge fails to bring security

A young woman named Rose-Marie had been constantly crying ever since she was rescued from a collapsed restaurant four days after the quake struck. She was having a meal with friends, all of whom died close to her — and according to the doctors, she does not yet realize that she has survived.

“She just repeats names and moans,” said a nurse at the field hospital, as she gently treats Rose-Marie’s injuries. “She still believes that she’s in the restaurant.”

On a nearby cot another survivor, Jacky Desbois, constantly relives the two days he spent in the ruins of a church.

“It was like being alive inside a tomb,” he said. “I believed that God would not abandon me and I prayed, but I felt like I was going crazy. I thought I’d die there and no one would find me.

“Some friends got me out but they broke my leg. Now they have to operate on me, but I’m happy to be alive. I don’t care about the leg,” Desbois said.

Almost a week after the earthquake, fewer and fewer survivors were being found.

Among those so-called lucky survivors was Marie-France, 22, pulled out late Sunday after having his right arm amputated. Related article: For thousands, successful healing pivots on amputation

“I didn’t know what was going on outside, my only thought was to live,” she mumbled, resting at the hospital’s intensive care unit and still under the effect of morphine.

Nearby a 70 year-old man said he was trapped for four days in his bakery.

“I had already prepared myself to die. Time was endless. When I was pulled out I did not know if two days or two weeks had gone by,” he said.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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