Sunday 24 January 2010

Survivors and great escapes - 2

Eleven days after the Haiti earthquake, a 24 year old man in remarkably good shape has been pulled from the rubble of a hotel. Wismond Exantus, who worked in its grocery store, said he survived on soft drinks and little bits of food. On Friday, an 84 year old woman and a 21 year old man were rescued. Emmannuel Buso had had nothing to eat or drink.

Mr Exantus’s rescue came shortly after the Haitian government had officially called off the search for survivors. On January 16, I blogged about some other remarkable escapes after disasters.

It was long after the search for survivors of the Courrieres coal mine explosion of 1906 in northern France had been abandoned that 13 miners emerged. They had lived for 20 days on food taken down by miners to eat in their lunch breaks and by slaughtering a horse. They had lost all sense of time, and believed they had been trapped for only four or five days.

In China’s Tangshan earthquake of 1976, miners working underground had a much better chance of survival than people on the surface. Only 13 out of 15,000 perished, but some were trapped for 15 days without food or clean water. They too thought they had been entombed for only a few days, but their emaciated bodies told the real story. For more on both disasters, see A Disastrous History of the World.

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