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Searchers chasing miracles under rubble

[ 2010-01-18 13:05]     字号 [] [] []  
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When they arrived at the collapsed University of Port-au-Prince building, Saint-Helene Jean-Louis' would-be rescuers could only see the top of her head and her left hand.

It had been four days since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake leveled the building, one of hundreds destroyed in the most powerful natural disaster to hit the impoverished Caribbean nation in more than 200 years - but the 29-year-old student was still breathing inside a stairwell of the former four-story structure. She was surrounded by eight decaying bodies, one entwined with her own.

Rescuers from Fairfax County, Virginia tore through a few more layers, digging down and sideways to free her upper body. She was able to sip a little water.

Nearly 30 hours later, working in two shifts, they pulled Jean-Louis out of the building - still alive. She was able to say her name before being whisked away to an Israeli field hospital.

"To me, she's the hero of the group," said Virginia firefighter Richard McKinney. "She had to have spent that first night by herself."

Other foreign and national rescue teams worked feverishly to get to survivors in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Late Saturday, American rescuers were trying to free three people trapped alive in the rubble of a suburban supermarket. They managed to shout back and forth with the survivors, and get them water, but had just started attempting to reach them.

Mexico's Rescue Brigade, a group with mole-like tunneling skills that located survivors after Mexico's deadly 1985 earthquake and in New York after Sept 11, pulled 35-year-old teacher Jean Baptiste Patrick alive from the rubble of the St. Gerard Technical School on Saturday.

On Friday, 18 members of the brigade pulled seven other survivors out from under collapsed buildings, said team coordinator Fernando Alvarez.

Israeli troops rescued the director of Haiti's tax ministry who was trapped in the ruins of his office building. Soldiers carried him out on a stretcher, checked his vital signs and declared him unhurt.

Other rescuers were not as lucky: The United Nations announced Saturday that the body of Haiti mission chief Hedi Annabi was found in the rubble of the agency's headquarters.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the bodies of Annabi's deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa, and the acting police commissioner, Doug Coates, also were found.

The Rev Dr Sam Dixon, head of the United Methodist Church's humanitarian relief agency, died before he could be rescued from the rubble of the Hotel Montana.

Emergency workers were still attempting to rescue possible survivors from the hotel yesterday after hearing the voice of a woman speaking in French. The teams said they thought they also had located two other people alive under the rubble.

Nearly 30 teams from around the globe were scrambling Saturday to find and rescue the living, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Port-au-Prince.


1. What was the magnitude of the earthquake?

2. How many days had it been since the quake when rescuers arrived at the university?

3. What is the name of the secretary-general of the UN?


1. 7.0.

2. Four days.

3. Ban Ki-moon.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Searchers chasing miracles under rubble

Searchers chasing miracles under rubble

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for China Daily for one year.