'My brother died next to me and his body started to decay'
Published 23/01/2010 | 05:00
An eight-year-old boy whose beaming grin has become an icon of hope in the search for Haiti earthquake survivors spoke of his incredible escape yesterday as search teams prepared to return home.
Kiki Joachin, who emerged from the rubble with his arms outstretched in delight after more than a week buried under the ruins of his family's home, said he smiled because he was "free" and "alive". He was saved on Wednesday along with his sister Sabrina (10). But their rescue was tinged with sadness after the death of their siblings in the disaster -- Yeye (9), Titite (3), and 18-month-old Didine.
"I am sad for my brothers and sisters but happy with my mama," said Kiki outside his home in a shanty town in the country's capital.
Speaking about the moment he was pulled out, he said: "I smiled because I was free -- I smiled because I was alive."
Sabrina, who was trapped alongside Kiki, spoke of the tragedy of their younger brother's death.
"My little brother died right next to me and his body started to decay."
"Before he died he asked me for water.
"We couldn't find any water.
"He asked us for water on Wednesday, on Thursday and Friday. He died of dehydration."
The children's mother, Odinel (38), said she had felt "sure" Kiki and Sabrina were dead.
"When I saw saw them, I collapsed in tears and hugged them," she said.
"We were all laughing and crying at the same time."