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Sunday 18 February 2018

Rescuers working around the clock as they scamble to reach survivors

Aislinn Laing

INTERNATIONAL rescuers joined Haitians scrabbling through the rubble of Port-au-Prince in a final attempt to save those trapped beneath.

After three days, there was the occasional cause for celebration amid the despair.

A three-month-old baby was found alive, a French woman rescued from beneath a once upmarket hotel emerged asking for a glass of wine, and a two-year-old boy was reunited with his mother after being pulled from the ruins of his home.

Yesterday afternoon, 17 search and rescue teams were deployed in the capital, with six more on their way, according to a spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"There are pockets of survival, we shouldn't give up hope," said Elisabeth Byrs. "They are working around the clock."

A 30-year-old woman who was trapped for 50 hours inside a market was freed unscathed by an Icelandic search-and-rescue team.

Heradia Morse was pulled down through a hole in the ceiling where she had lain entombed, listening as the screams of others who were trapped faded to silence as the hours passed.

An 11-year-old girl, her braids covered in dust, was neck-deep in rubble and screaming as rescue workers tried to lift an iron beam that was pinning down her right leg. Anaika San Luis was trapped along with the bodies of at least 25 relatives and neighbours. She was eventually lifted out and taken to a specialist medical centre.


Another women trapped in her office block told how she had prayed that her parents would not lose their only child.

"I never once stopped praying," she said. "I'm someone who prays a lot and now I'm very grateful that I never lost faith.

"I still have my make-up on from Tuesday -- I was coming back from work. When it happened I was very shocked. I presumed it was an earthquake, but I wasn't 100pc sure because it happened so fast."

Elsewhere in the city, it was disclosed that Brazilian soldiers helped deliver a baby girl in a hospital in a garage at their base just hours after the earthquake hit on Tuesday.

Capt Fabricio Almeida de Moura said the child was doing well but her mother, who apparently went into labour from the shock of the tremor, remained in a critical condition.

More than 20 people were pulled alive from the Montana Hotel, the largest in Port-au-Prince. It had been used mainly by foreign aid workers and tourists. Many had survived in an air pocket in what used to be the reception area. Major Rodrigo Vazquez, of the Chilean army who was directing the rescue, said: "We estimate 70 more inside. This is devastating."

American Richard Morse, manager of Hotel Oloffson, on which Graham Greene's Hotel Trianon in 'The Comedians' was modelled, told of a scene of devastation at a local school and church, St Gerard's.

"(They) are destroyed. People are alive in the rubble," he said. "I look at the sky, see the stars, and it's as if nothing was wrong. The singing, the praying and the sirens bring me back to reality." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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