Nepal earthquake recovery includes remarkable tales of survival

​The likelihood of survivors being pulled from the rubble in earthquake-ravaged Nepal dwindles with each hour, even as successful rescues have brought cheers to a country shocked by death and destruction.

Rescuers continue search as hope dwindles

Four-month-old boy Sonit Awal is held up by Nepalese Army soldiers after being rescued from the rubble of his house in Bhaktapur - one of several remarkable survival stories amid the death and destruction in Nepal. (Amul Thapa/Kathmandu Today/AP)

​The likelihood of survivors being pulled from the rubble in earthquake-ravaged Nepal dwindles with each hour, even as successful rescues have brought cheers to a country shocked by death and destruction.

Experts disagree about exactly how long people can live without nourishment, but people rarely survive without water for more than several days. 

Rescuers still work in disaster zones despite the odds. Fifteen days after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 16-year-old Darlene Etienne was pulled from rubble by French rescue workers, having survived by drinking water remaining from a bathroom.   

Here's a look at some of the remarkable rescues after Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake in Nepal.

'I'd given up'

A 28-year-old man who was freed after being trapped for 82 hours in a collapsed building in Kathmandu gave details of his ordeal, saying he drank his own urine to survive.

"I had some hope, but by yesterday I'd given up," Rishi Khanal told The Associated Press from his hospital bed Wednesday. "My nails went all white and my lips cracked ... I was sure no one was coming for me. I was certain I was going to die."

Khanal, who had a leg amputated after his rescue, said he was surrounded by bodies and kept banging on the rubble until a Nepali-French rescue team pulled him out.

"I managed to take out the handkerchief from my pocket, soaked it with my urine and squeezed it in my mouth," Khanal told Reuters on Thursday. "It gave me some energy to shout and I survived."

But he wondered how he would live with his injury, which would prevent him from working in the Middle East or on a farm in Nepal.

"I don't even have the money to buy a wheelchair now. How will I spend the rest of my life and support my family?"

Survived on clarified butter

Teenager Pemba Tamang was pulled from earthquake rubble in the capital Kathmandu on Thursday after being trapped for five days.
Survivor Rishi Khanal is carried on a stretcher after being freed by French rescuers. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)

Crowds cheered as he was carried away on a stretcher, dazed and dusty. He had been trapped under the collapsed debris of a seven-storey building.

Nepalese rescuers, supported by an American disaster response team, had been working for hours to free him. L.B. Basnet, the police officer who crawled into a gap to reach Tamang, said he was surprisingly responsive.

"He thanked me when I first approached him," said Basnet. "He told me his name, his address, and I gave him some water. I assured him we were near to him."

Tamang, 18, later told The Associated Press he was working in a hotel in the building when it began to shake.

"Suddenly the building fell down," he said. "I thought I was about to die."

All he had to eat while he was trapped was some ghee, or clarified butter, he said.

Moment of joy in Nepal


6 years agoVideo
A young woman and a teenage boy were freed after being trapped for five nights, giving renewed hope that others may still survive 2:54

'Please God, help him'

Nepalese photojournalist Amul Thapa smiled in spite of his hidden pain when he saw the scene he'll remember always: Rescue workers pulling a four-month-old boy from the wrecked home where he'd been trapped 20 hours.

Sonit Awal's chubby cheeks were caked in chalky, concrete dust. One tiny fist curled tightly shut, the other seemingly covering his face.

His nine-year-old sister was watching him when the earthquake collapsed many historic buildings in the town of Bhaktapur, just east of Kathmandu.

This woman was one of hundreds gathered staring intensely at the collapsed buildings where the teen was found. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

The children's parents were both away but the girl managed to escape unhurt. When Thapa, who works with the newspaper Kathmandu Today, first heard Sonit's cries, the baby was trapped under a wooden beam.

That beam "was supporting everything," the 26-year-old Thapa remembers. To move it would have meant to bring even more danger to the trapped child.

Thapa's own family in his hometown of Bhaktapur had suffered and his home had been destroyed but Thapa said when he heard the baby cry all he could think was, "Please God, help him."​

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nepalese army soldiers pulled out little Sonit.

"When I saw the baby alive all my sorrow went. Everyone was clapping. It gave me energy and made me smile in spite of lots of pain hidden inside me."

The photographer said the baby appeared to have suffered only a small cut over his brow.

Rescue near bus terminal

Police say a woman in her 20s has been rescued five days after Nepal's massive earthquake. 
A police official identified the woman as Krishna Devi Khadka and said she was rescued Thursday evening in an area near Kathmandu's main bus terminal. 

The official asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

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With files from CBC News, Reuters


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