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Saturday 1 October 2016

Baby girl found alive in rubble of collapsed Nairobi building

Published 03/05/2016 | 12:51

People help survivors retrieve their household items at the site of a building collapse in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)
People help survivors retrieve their household items at the site of a building collapse in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)

A baby girl has been rescued from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Kenya last week.

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The recovery of the child, who is almost six months old, raised hopes for more survivors in the Nairobi disaster that has left 23 people dead and 93 others missing.

The child, identified by the Kenya Red Cross as Dealeryn Saisi Wasike, was taken to hospital at about 6am on Tuesday after being found in the ruins of the seven-storey building that collapsed on Friday night.

She was found unharmed in a washbasin, according to Pius Masai of the National Disaster Management Centre, which is co-ordinating the rescue mission.

Furniture had created pockets preventing the columns from falling on her and allowing air to flow into the rubble, he said.

"She only cried when she was rescued from the debris," Mr Masai said. "Otherwise she had not made noise or given any indication that she was there."

Celebration, cheers, hugs and tears greeted the baby's retrieval, he added. T he baby's mother was found dead, Mr Masai said.

The baby's father, Raslon Saisi Wasike, said his wife kept baby Dealeryn in a washtub when she was doing her household chores.

"Just imagine the child was found inside a washbasin ... she was lucky to be found. I feel happy," Mr Wasike said.

He said he was at work when the news of the collapse reached him and he tried to frantically reach his family.

The baby had no physical injuries and was being treated for dehydration, said Simon Ithai, a spokesman at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

A medical expert said the baby was lucky to survive.

"It appears this baby was pretty well-nourished if it was able to survive for four days," said Dr Peter Sullivan, an associate professor of paediatrics at Oxford University.

He said it is possible the baby's body temperature dropped at night and slowed down her metabolism.

Babies can typically recover from being dehydrated within one to two days, unless there are complications, said Dr Sullivan.

The two owners of the collapsed building and 21 officials from the county government were taken into custody following the collapse.

Police have asked a court to be able to hold them for three weeks while an investigation against them proceeds. The court will rule on Wednesday on whether they will be granted bail.

With housing in high demand in Nairobi, some developers bypass regulations to cut costs and maximise profits.

After eight buildings collapsed and killed 15 people, President Uhuru Kenyatta last year ordered an audit of all the country's buildings to see if they are up to code.

The National Construction Authority found that 58% of buildings in Nairobi are unfit for habitation. Most of Nairobi's four million people live in low-income areas or slums.

Press Association

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