Out of the rubble: 3 dramatic Nepal survival stories

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP/MEDIA GENERAL) — A teenage boy, a four-month-old and a woman in her 20’s have all been saved. Five days after a deadly earthquake struck Nepal, survival stories emerge.

15-year-old Pemba Tamang

Cheers rang out in Nepal’s capital Thursday as rescuers pulled a teenager alive from the earthquake rubble he had been trapped in for five days. Pemba Tamang, 15, was pulled out of the wreckage, dazed and dusty, and carried away on a stretcher. He had been trapped under the collapsed debris of a seven-story building in Kathmandu since Saturday, when the magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck.

Nepalese rescuers, supported by an American disaster response team, had been working for hours to free him. L.B. Basnet, one of the police officers who helped rescue Tamang, said he was surprisingly responsive.

“He thanked me when I first approached him,” said Basnet. “He told me his name, his address, and I gave him some water. I assured him we were near to him.”

When Tamang was lifted out, his face was covered in dust, and medics had put an IV drip into his arm. A blue brace had been placed around his neck. He appeared stunned, and his eyes blinked in the sunlight as workers hurriedly carried him away.

Tamang told The Associated Press he was working in a hotel in the building when it began to shake.

“Suddenly the building fell down,” he said. “I thought I was about to die.”

All he had to eat while he was trapped was some ghee, or clarified butter, he said.

Krishna Devi Khadka

On Thursday evening, police in Kathmandu said a woman in her 20s, Krishna Devi Khadka, was rescued from earthquake rubble in another location. She had been trapped in an area near Kathmandu’s main bus terminal where there are lots of hotels, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media.

Baby Sonit Awal

Nepalese photojournalist Amul Thapa smiled in spite of his hidden pain when he saw the scene he’ll remember always: Rescue workers pulling a 4-month-old boy from the wrecked home where he’d been trapped 20 hours after the earthquake.

Sonit Awal’s chubby cheeks were caked in chalky, concrete dust. One tiny fist curled tightly shut, the other seemingly covering his face.

When Thapa, who works with KathmanduToday.com, first heard Sonit’s cries, the baby was trapped under a wooden beam.

That beam “was supporting everything,” the 26-year-old remembers. To move it would have meant to bring even more danger to the trapped child.

Thapa’s own family in his hometown of Bhaktapur had suffered and his home had been destroyed but Thapa said when he heard the baby cry all he could think was “Please God, help him.”

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nepalese army soldiers pulled out little Sonit.

“When I saw the baby alive all my sorrow went. Everyone was clapping. It gave me energy and made me smile in spite of lots of pain hidden inside me.”

The photographer said the baby appeared to have suffered only a small cut over his brow.

Police said Thursday the official death toll in Nepal had reached 5,858. That figure did not include the 19 people killed at Mount Everest — five foreign climbers and 14 Nepalese Sherpa guides — when the quake caused an avalanche that hit part of the base camp.

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