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Kenyan Woman Found Alive Six Days After Building Collapse

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Friday, May 6th, 2016
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She screamed: “You will hurt my eye, please be careful.” And despite the drill being noisy, her voice though frail, was enough to trigger the KDF rescue team to realise there was someone alive under the rubble.

For six days and six nights, she lay on the floor, holding on to her dear life and patiently waiting for rescuers to move slab after slab and hoping the debris of the collapsed building in Huruma Estate, Nairobi, would not fall on her as it was moved by heavy bulldozers.

Ms Elizabeth Odhiambo, who was nine months pregnant, was the first person to be pulled out of the rubble on Thursday.

Three more people – two females and a man – were later pulled out of the debris alive, making the total number of those rescued on Thursday to four.

The other unidentified three were rescued at 5.20pm and taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital for treatment. However, one of the women a few minutes after arrival.

Deputy Commander of the Engineering Brigade Stephen Radina said the operation is being conducted with utmost care.

After Ms Odhiambo alerted the rescuers at exactly 11.21am, they took another five hours to reach her, as she was holed up in a place not easily accessible for the rescuers to get her out.

There was also a door that had bent and partially blocked her.

A doctor, however, managed to stretch her hands to administer oxygen and intravenous fluids to her, as the rescue team cut the slabs.

All this while, she managed to communicate with the rescuers and told them that she was not hurt, and with her faint voice, described her situation.

At 3.13pm, the rescuers managed to pull her out of the rubbles to be received with ululations of joy from neighbours and observers.

She was hurriedly taken into an ambulance and driven to Kenyatta National Hospital where she is receiving treatment, though doctors confirmed that her baby had died while she was still under the wreckage.

Other women, who were doing their businesses along the adjacent roads, celebrated and took a moment to pray and thank God for the miraculous rescue.

RESCUE ONGOING

At the hospital, her uncle, Mr Bartholomew Onyango, could not hide his tears of joy as he stood outside the Kenyatta National Hospital

“We were able to get her sister’s number and she told us people had gone to city mortuary. I left my place in Kibera and went to the mortuary to look for her that night,” Mr Onyango narrated.

Luckily his niece was not among the deceased, but was still trapped under the building that she once called home.

“We were having supper with my family when we heard people from below shouting that there was a big crack on the ground floor. I told my sister to take our child and to go downstairs. My wife was reluctant to leave, but I insisted,” said Mr Stephen Onyango Nyambiro, Elizabeth’s husband.

The family was able to escape the building with minor injuries.

Mr Nyambiro was shown a picture of his wife being rescue from the building but he was not very sure it was her.

“Her rescue took quite a long time because she was in an inaccessible place. We needed to strategise how to remove the slab and at the same time ensure we pull her out alive,” Incident Commander from the National Disaster Management Unit, NDMU, Pius Masai said.

He added that the rescue of the woman was a great achievement considering she was under the rubble for close to a week without food or water.

“We are also hoping to save a few others. The rescue of baby Dealeryn Saisi on Tuesday and this other one has given us a lot of hope,” Mr Masai said.

HURDLE

By 5pm on Thursday, the death toll from the collapsed building had reached 36 while the number of those who had been rescued stood at 137.

Those reported to be missing reduced to 70, as some people had identified their relatives at the City Mortuary while others had been found.

The rescue operations are being conducted by the Kenya Defence Forces’ Engineering Brigade, which has a Disaster Response Unit.

On Wednesday, KDF said that it would clear the rubble of the building by Friday, adding that the operation was made delicate by the fact there could be people who are alive under the debris.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Maritim, who is in charge of the Unit, said the rescuers were inconvenienced by lack of space as the building is next to a river and is surrounded wall-to-wall by other tall buildings from the upper side.

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