A French search team that would not go home pulled off another “miracle” rescue in Port-au-Prince, lifting a 17-year-old girl alive from beneath this cityscape of rubble.
Wednesday’s rescue of teenager Darlene Etienne from a collapsed home near St. Gerard University, 15 days after Haiti’s great quake killed an estimated 2,00,000 people, was the first such recovery since Saturday, when French rescuers extricated a man from the ruins of a hotel grocery store. A man pulled on Tuesday from the rubble of a downtown store said he had been trapped during an aftershock, not in the original January 12 quake.
Authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water, let alone more than two weeks. But young Ms. Etienne may have had some access to water from a bathroom of the wrecked house, and rescuers said she mumbled something about having a little Coca-Cola with her in the rubble.
Her family said Ms. Etienne had just begun studies at St. Gerard when the disaster struck, trapping dozens of students and staff in the rubble of school buildings, hostels and nearby homes. “We thought she was dead,” said cousin Jocelyn A. St. Jules.
Then — a half-month after the earthquake — neighbours heard a voice weakly calling from the rubble of a private home down the road from the destroyed university. They called authorities, who brought in the French civil response team.
Rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along the dangerously crumbled roof, heard her voice and saw a little bit of dust-covered black hair in the rubble. Clearing away some debris, he reached the young woman and saw she was alive — barely.
“I don’t think she could have survived even a few more hours,” Mr. Fuilla said.
France’s ambassador to Haiti, Didier le Bret, praised the “stubbornness” of the French rescue squad.
“They should not have been working anymore because, officially, the rescue phase is over,” he said. “But they felt that some lives still are to be saved, so we did not say they should leave the country.”
At least 135 people buried in rubble have been rescued by search teams since the quake, most in the immediate aftermath.
On food aid, the U.N. World Food Program, which says it has reached 450,000 people, urgently appealed to governments for more cash for Haiti supplies — $800 million to feed two million people through December, more than quadruple the $196 million already pledged.