A teenage girl is rescued fifteen days after Haiti’s earthquake
by Ashley Couillard
Fifteen days after the Haiti earthquake, which killed over 200,000 people, French rescuers found a 16-year-old girl alive under the rubble. The Haitian government had officially stopped the rescue program just five days before the girl, Darlene Etienne, was found.
Despite this, French rescuers didn’t give up their search and kept looking through piles of concrete in hopes of finding more people. Neighbors had been searching near their homes when they heard a weak voice cry out for help. A French rescues team was then called to help rescue the young Etienne from underneath the wreckage.
She was said to be found “in a pocket surrounded by concrete”, rescue team spokesman Commander Samuel Bernes told Agence France-Press. When the earthquake struck Port- Au- Prince on January 12, Etienne was in a bathroom and was able to survive those fifteen days by drinking the water from the bathtub.
When the French rescue team was able to locate Etienne, they pulled out all the concrete and dug out a hole big enough to give her oxygen and water. The girl, who was really weak, couldn’t move or pull herself out on her own. Within 45 minutes she was helped out of the rubble and emerged covered in dust, but alive nonetheless. She was then immediately rushed to a field hospital where she was treated.
“I don’t think she could have survived even a few more hours” Rescuer Claude Fuilla told the Associated Press news agency. Etienne was severely dehydrated and couldn’t really speak. Rescuers could only hear her faint voice crying for help. Because she survived on a few drops of water for the duration of her time stuck underneath the rubble, many are calling Etienne’s story a miracle, in light of the recent tragedies that have struck Haiti.
Etienne’s family said that she had just begun studying at College St. Gerard when the earthquake struck. Dozens of staff and students were trapped under piles of concrete in the now destroyed school, hotels and nearby homes. Her family all believed that she was dead.