A four-month-old baby in Nepal trapped for 22 hours under the rubble of the devastating earthquake was pulled out alive — a story that came to light after photos of the rescue circulated today.
The infant, Sonit Awal, was pinned beneath the collapsed debris of their home near the historic site of Bhaktapur and was feared dead by his parents Shyam Awal and Muldhoka, according to a report in the Kathmandu Today website.
The Nepalese military tried to search for the baby hours after the earthquake on April 25, to no avail.
When the army men left, Shyam Awal said he heard his son cry, renewing hope that he was alive.
The rescuers returned the next morning and pulled him out through a narrow opening in the concrete, as the distraught parents watched and waited.
Finally, at around 10am on Sunday, the baby emerged, his face caked with dirt but unscathed — as his mother wept tears of joy.
Still swaddled in his bonnet and mud-stained clothes, the baby was sent to hospital and cleared of any injures, Kathmandu Today reported.
Sonit’s story is among a few stories of survival coming out of Nepal after the quake that claimed more than 5,000 lives and injured over 10,000 people. The United Nations launched an appeal for US$415 million in aid from the international.
On Thursday, rescuers pulled a 15-year-old boy from the ruins of a collapsed building in Kathmandu, 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.
Grainy broadcast footage showed a crowd of rescuers trying to bring the youngster out of the rubble of a guesthouse in the Gongabu district of the ruined capital before police confirmed he had been pulled out.
“A 15-year-old boy has been rescued from the rubble of a lodge called Hilton Guesthouse,” said police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam. “We are awaiting more details.”
Local media reports said that the unnamed teenager had been taken to hospital for treatment.
Another man was rescued after spending more than 80 hours trapped in rubble, so thirsty that he drank his own urine.
The news was 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 quake, the deadliest in Nepal for more than 80 years.
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 scale of the crisis.
The UN said there were “significant logistical challenges” in responding to such a large-scale crisis in hard-to-reach, mountainous areas.
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.
Around 70,000 houses have been destroyed and another 530,000 damaged across 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts, the UN said.
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.
The impact also caused death and destruction in neighbouring countries such as India and China where more than 100 people were killed.
Although the number of aftershocks since Saturday’s quake has subsided, fresh tremors were felt in the capital Kathmandu overnight.
Some people who had spent the past four nights camped out in the open for fear of aftershocks spent their first night back home.
But a significant number are still living on the roadside or open ground in Kathmandu, which is normally home to some 2.5 million people, including many migrant workers.
“I don’t know how long we are going to do this. How long can we live on the street?” said Rajina Maharjan after another night camped out in a tent outside her house with her husband, in laws and a four-year-old son.
“We might return home in a few days, see how we can fix it and feel safe it in. It is raining on and off, we have old people and a child to take care of,” added Maharjan, a shopkeeper.
Hundreds of thousands of residents have fled the city since Saturday, fearing aftershocks and wanting to inspect the damage back in their families’ villages.
Signs of normal life were returning Thursday to Kathmandu, with shopkeepers opening, some for their first time since the quake, and vegetable vendors laying out bags of produce before dawn at devastated Durbar Square.
The government acknowledged it had been overwhelmed.
“The disaster has been so huge and unprecedented that we have not been in a position to meet the expectations of the needy people,” Communications Minister Minendra Rijal told Nepal’s Kantipur Television.
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