Rescuers have pulled a 15-year-old boy alive from the rubble of Nepal’s massive earthquake, five days after the disaster.
The teenager’s rescue from the ruins of the collapsed Hilton Guesthouse in Kathmandu provided a rare moment of joy as relief coordinators warned it could take five days to reach some of the worst hit areas, accessible only by foot.
“A 15-year-old boy has been rescued from the rubble of a lodge called Hilton Guesthouse,” police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam said, identifying the boy as Pemba Lama.
Grainy broadcast footage showed a crowd of rescuers trying to bring Pemba out of the rubble of the collapsed building to huge cheers from onlookers.
The mud-caked teenager was fitted with a neck brace and hooked up to an intravenous drip at the scene before being lifted on a stretcher and into an ambulance that then raced to hospital.
The boy was conscious, held the hand of one of his rescuers and looked towards a large group of photographers and television news crews as he was brought to safety, people on the scene said.
Members of the security forces hoisted the rescuer onto their shoulders to more cheers.
“I don’t have any logical explanation. It is miraculous. It is a wonderful thing to see in all this destruction,” Libby Weiss, a spokeswoman at the Israeli military-run facility, said.
“He was under the rubble for 120 hours and it is certainly the longest we have heard anybody of being under the rubble and surviving.
“We understand he didn’t have any food and just two jars of ghee [clarified butter], which he had at the time he was under the rubble.
“He was triaged but, remarkably, speaking with us, fully conscious and was able to communicate and doesn’t have any major injuries or wounds. He is doing remarkably well.”
The rescue operation at the collapsed guesthouse was fraught with risks.
“The area was very narrow. We used our tools and dug him out. We asked ‘Is anyone inside?’ and we heard a ‘dhuk dhuk’ sound and kept searching,” L.B. Basnet, one of the Nepalese rescuers, told local media.
“He was behind a bike, we had to cut through it. And we pulled him out successfully. This was very good, very good.”
Joy at Pemba’s rescue however was tempered when the body of another teenager was found close to his.
“He [Pemba] told us he had been speaking to two other people until early this morning but after that he could no longer hear them,” Narayan Thapa, a local police inspector, said.
Images have emerged after local media reported a four-month-old baby rescued alive after being buried under a collapsed building for 22 hours after the quake struck.
The news is likely to reinvigorate the efforts of rescuers who have had to contend with regular shocks and rain, which makes it harder for sniffer dogs to work out if anyone is alive below the mountains of concrete.
The mood in Kathmandu has become increasingly grim since Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake, the deadliest in Nepal for more than 80 years.
However, these stories are only far and few as many of the communities worst affected by Saturday’s quake are in remote areas of the Himalayas that rescuers have not been able to reach.
While rescuers were out in the capital despite heavy morning rain, helicopters could not fly to the worst-hit areas in the countryside of the Himalayan nation.
“The rain is adding to the problems. Nature seems to be against us,” Rameshwor Dandal, chief of the disaster management centre at Nepal’s home ministry, said.
After desperate Nepalis clashed with riot police and seized supplies of bottled water on Wednesday, the government acknowledged that it had been overwhelmed by the crisis.
In its most recent situation report, the UN said that search and rescue was still limited outside of the Kathmandu Valley.
The latest official toll from Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre put the number of dead at 5,489 and more than 10,000 are known to have been injured, with many people have been sleeping in the open since Saturday’s quake.
– with agencies