Crowd held blanket to catch mother and three children as they fell four floors to escape raging fire
Published 04/05/2016 | 14:57
Residents in a South Korean city rescued a woman and her three children from a fire by safely catching them with a blanket as they fell four floors, fire department officials said.
About 10 people, including US servicemen, held the blanket and persuaded the woman to drop her children from a fourth-floor window and then jump herself before rescue workers arrived at the scene last week in the city of Pyeongtaek, said Moon Sang-hyeon, from the Songtan fire department.
The children - aged one, three and four - were not hurt and their mother, a 30-year-old Nigerian, suffered only minor injuries, Mr Moon said.
Another woman was rescued by fire workers from a third-floor bathroom and there were no more injuries from the fire.
The four-storey building stood on a narrow alley near a busy outdoor market and a US military base, which made it difficult for fire trucks to reach the scene quickly, Mr Moon said.
"Usually it's safer to be patient and wait for fire workers to come but in this case everything worked out for the best," Mr Moon said.
Mobile phone footage capturing the dramatic rescue has appeared on social media pages.
One of the Americans who assisted in the rescue was initially trapped herself, according to Osan air base, where all of the Americans involved work.
Staff sergeant Cierra Rogers, 731st air mobility squadron administrative assistant, was inside the building when she smelled smoke.
Unable to use the doors, she kicked out a window to reach the patio.
"From then I made a decision because you can easily die from choking on smoke," Ms Rogers said in an account posted on the base website.
She tried to climb down using wires attached to the patio, but fell about 4.5 metres (15ft) to the ground. The other US personnel who had noticed the fire rushed to her aid.
Tech sergeant Stefan Haynes, 51st force support squadron passport official, then saw the mother and children. The father of five told himself: "No, this is not going to happen."
The base's website said the Osan personnel involved in the rescue returned a few days later to meet the father, who expressed his gratitude.
Ms Rogers suffered a deep cut from the broken glass.