Belfast Telegraph

Hope rises from the rubble of Kathmandu

By Helen Carson

Fifteen-year-old Pemba Tamang was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building which came down when a devastating earthquake hit the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu a week ago.

The miraculous recovery of the survivor by police brought a rare moment of joy to the city which has been overwhelmed by death and destruction.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit a week ago, leaving 6,198 dead.

Pemba said: "I thought I was hallucinating." After night fell, police reported another dramatic rescue - a woman in her 20s, Krishna Devi Khadka, was pulled from a building in the same neighbourhood as Tamang near Kathmandu's main bus terminal.

"Life has become a struggle to survive. It gives us hope," Hans Raj Joshi said after watching Tamang's rescue.

"We thought they were only bringing out the dead. It's hard to believe people are still alive."

When Tamang was finally extricated, rescue workers inserted an IV in his arm, propped him onto a yellow plastic stretcher - the same kind that has helped convey countless dead - and carried him through the ruins on their shoulders as if he was a newly crowned king.

When the procession turned a corner and entered the main road, ecstatic onlookers let out jubilant cheers of happiness.

Tamang told his story to a group of reporters inside a tent at an Israeli field hospital.

He looked weak and tired. But otherwise he seemed fine.

When Saturday's quake began, Tamang said he was having lunch with a friend in the hotel where he worked.

As he ran down toward the way out, the stairs shook. He saw walls cracking, ceilings caving in.

He was in the basement when "suddenly the building fell down. I thought I was about to die," he said.

Tamang fainted, and when he regained consciousness, he could see little but darkness.

Tamang survived on cans of ghee, or clarified butter.

Finally, on Thursday, one Nepalese team began combing the rubble in Tamang's neighbourhood, a place they had found another survivor on Monday.

They cried out and knocked on broken concrete slabs, and then listened closely for any response - then discovered the trapped teenager.

Belfast Telegraph

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