With each day that passes in Nepal it becomes less likely that disaster responders will find earthquake survivors.
The already impoverished country of nearly 28 million people has been devastated by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck at midday on April 25, toppling buildings and religious temples, and triggering massive avalanches and landslides that buried villagers and trekkers.
More than 7,500 people have been killed and 14,500 injured, according to the government, but both figures are expected to keep rising as search and rescue efforts wind down and the massive task of rebuilding begins.
Most of the victims are Nepalese, but the toll also includes an unknown number of foreigners, many of whom had been trekking through the beautiful Himalayan country or waiting to climb Mt. Everest when Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years hit.
Many of the survivors have lost everything — their homes, their meager possessions and, most importantly, their loved ones.
But, incredibly, from beneath the huge piles of rubble have emerged miraculous stories of survival that have given hope to the living, not only that more people could be found alive, although that looks increasingly unlikely, but that their country will also rise again.
Most recently, on May 5, we learned that four men are alive thanks to a technology that sounds like the stuff of science fiction.
After the earthquake hit, rescuers searched for buried survivors using a prototype tool called FINDER (“Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response”), which uses microwave radar to identify human heartbeats. It was designed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Institute and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. It uses microwave radar to identify heartbeats.
It worked. FINDER picked up heartbeats of people who’d been buried for days in the village of Chautara. Now they’re safe.
There was also the case of Funchu Tamang, a 101-year-old man said to have been pulled from the rubble of his home seven days after the earthquake.
In the end, it turned out that a member of his family rescued him a few hours after the quake struck and rescue workers found the elderly man sheltering in his garden.
— PERU RT (@PeruRT) April 30, 2015
One of the most amazing survival stories to have emerged from the disaster is that of a four-month-old baby who was plucked from rubble in Kathmandu 22 hours after the quake hit.
Images of Nepalese rescue workers holding the dust-covered infant, who somehow escaped serious injury, offered hope that more people would be found alive.
On April 30, 15-year-old Pemba Lama was rescued from the ruins of a multi-story building in Kathmandu.
The teenage boy had been “pancaked” between the collapsed floors and made it through the ordeal by eating clarified butter.
On the same day as images of Lama’s dramatic rescue were beamed around the world, Norwegian rescue workers also pulled 24-year-old Krishna Devi Khadka from a quake-damaged hotel. “It’s nothing short of a miracle,” IsraAid’s Yotam Polizer was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying. “It was hard to believe that anyone could have survived for that long.”
By Allison Jackson, GlobalPost
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.