A BATTERED and bruised 28-year-old victim of the Haiti earthquake is beginning the long journey back to health -- after enduring nearly four weeks pinned under rubble.
Evan Muncie lost 30lb during his 27-day ordeal and is suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition.
Doctors said he was having difficulty comprehending his situation, seeming to believe that he was still trapped in the ruins of the marketplace where, according to his family, he had been buried since January 12.
"I thought he was dead. But God kept him from dying," said his mother.
Fewer than 150 people have been rescued since the quake devastated Port-au-Prince, razing 250,000 homes. The Haitian government estimates that 230,000 people were killed, matching the death toll of the 2004 Asian tsunami.
The story of one man's remarkable survival after almost four weeks apparently entombed in the ruins provided a much-needed lift for a city that had given up hope of any more miracles.
"It's not just amazing that he survived -- the amazing fact is that they found him," said Dushyantha Jayaweera, of the University of Miami field hospital in Port-au-Prince, where Mr Muncie was being treated yesterday. "You never say never in medicine. I think it tells us about people not giving up on their loved ones -- they kept looking and kept hoping."
The facts surrounding Mr Muncie's ordeal remained vague yesterday, his story made all the more confusing because he appeared to have been suffering from hallucinations, telling doctors that a man in a white coat had taken him water as he lay confined under the concrete.
Medical staff said that he could not have lived for as long as he did without water, but they were unsure exactly how he got it. They speculated that there had been some source close to hand in the ruins of the marketplace where he worked selling rice before the earthquake.
He was suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition when he was found.
Mr Muncie reportedly told his rescuers that he had heard bulldozers getting closer day by day.
The search-and-rescue effort in Haiti was wound down more than two weeks ago, becoming, instead, a recovery operation.