Va. team rescues quake victim in Haiti
Rescuers fed water through a rubber pipe when they discovered the man was trapped beneath four meters of rubble
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Her braids, dusty from the rubble around her, poked out from the small opening where she lay crying in pain, her right leg pinned under a heavy piece of metal.
A group of men worked throughout the day to free this 11-year-old girl — one of scores trapped beneath buildings that collapsed in Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake. Lacking proper supplies to cut through the metal crushing the child's leg, the men briefly considered amputating it.
Finally, just after sunset Thursday, a miracle of sorts: an electric saw and a small generator. Within a couple of hours, the girl was freed and rushed to a first aid station. Her leg was so badly wounded, her family was taking her to a more sophisticated hospital some three hours outside of Port-au-Prince.
Many rescuers have clawed their way to survivors pinned beneath buildings two days after the devastating earthquake. In the absence of heavy machinery to clear the debris, residents used their hands and brawn to lift large slabs of concrete. Some trapped victims punched out bricks themselves and tried to squeeze through cracks in the fallen structures.
Atop the mound of debris that once was a five-story building of great prominence, U.S. rescue workers Thursday pulled out a man in a deep green uniform.
Tarmo Joveer, an Estonian security officer for the United Nations, free from the enclosure, stood up and raised his fist. He had been trapped beneath the rubble of his workplace for two days following the quake that shook the city and toppled the U.N. headquarters around him. He said he had never lost hope.
He was one of scores of U.N. workers feared trapped inside the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping and civilian assistance mission, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Thursday. As many as 150 staff members were still missing after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti Tuesday afternoon, devastating it's capital.
The "small miracle," as Ban described it, is one of many throughout the disaster area as rescuers and residents scramble to free entrapped survivors.
The Fairfax County, Virginia, Urban Search and Rescue Team saved Joveer, who was fed water through a rubber pipe when they discovered he was trapped beneath four meters of rubble, according to Ban. After Joveer emerged, he walked away, brushing the dust out of his hair with his hand and hugging those around him.
"It was not good," is all he could say to describe his experience under the rubble.
He also said he did not think there was anyone else alive.
Joveer was later taken to an Argentinean hospital, Ban said. Joveer said during the earthquake he lost his footing, fell and suffered some pain. He did not talk further about any injuries he may have sustained.
It took about five hours to rescue Joveer, Fairfax rescue member Sam Gray said, adding that the disaster was the worst he'd seen.
"Obviously, it was pretty nice to find somebody that we were able to help," Gray said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get to everybody but we're going to keep trying and keep working while we're here. This is the first of many people that we're going to help over the next couple of weeks."
Earlier Thursday, residents conducted their own mission and spent three hours digging out Philip Jean Renol from his home. He suffered a broken leg and two broken arms.
At a school house, a group of men had been working since Wednesday to dig out a man from beneath what was left of the five-story building. They worked in assembly-line fashion with some tapping away with chisels and one operating a blow torch to melt away parts of the concrete debris crushing the victim. With his right shoulder pinned and his hand trapped, his screams could be heard as the men desperately labored to free him.
Finally, he emerged from beneath the destroyed school alive when two men lifted his concrete-dusted body Thursday.
From inside the school other voices were heard. Children and teachers are believed to be trapped inside.
Throughout the day, ongoing rescue attempts were taking place all over Port-au-Prince, many with outcomes as yet unknown.
A search-and-rescue crew of American, Chilean and French members found a woman trapped at the Hotel Montana in Petionville, just outside Port-au-Prince. Officer David Barlow of the Fairfax team told CNN the crew was trying to reach the woman from two different points. The victim, who was a guest at the hotel, was stuck in the bar area of the five-story hotel that had collapsed into a 30-foot-tall pile.
France has expressed concern for the approximately 200 French tourists who were staying at the Hotel Montana.
Three French girls trapped in rubble had only one French firefighter digging for them, reflective of a severe need for rescue workers and equipment.
In another location in Port-au-Prince, two people were pulled from the ruins of the Caribbean Market by the Icelandic International Search and Rescue Team, Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.
But another woman, Nadia, was still entombed inside the four-level market place. She has not had water for almost 48 hours and has told rescuers she feels tired. Rescuers said they had yet to devise a plan to extract her safely.
Near the presidential palace, residents dug for hours Wednesday to rescue a 13-year-old girl named Bea. A wild cheer erupted as she was pulled out alive.
But nearby lay the bodies of four of her family members.
Haitians and rescuers are rushing in the hope that more survivors can be pulled out alive from beneath the multitude of wreckage sites, but some have accepted that some will perish waiting for help.
"Honestly, it's an incredible amount of devastation and an incredible amount of people that will probably lose their lives here," Gray said. "The hardest part is to know how many people that aren't going to be saved."
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