Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Sunday, 24 January 2010

Haiti rescuers pull man alive from rubble after 11 days


Rescuers could hear knocking and finally managed to free the trapped man

A 24-year-old man has been rescued alive from the rubble of a ruined hotel in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, 11 days after the earthquake.

It came hours after Haiti's government declared a formal end to the search for survivors.

Onlookers cheered as Wismond Exantus - smiling and apparently in a good condition - emerged on a stretcher from what remains of the Napoli Inn Hotel.

He later told reporters that soft drinks and snacks had kept him going.

Adam Mynott
By Adam Mynott, Port-au-Prince
It took two-and-a-half hours for the rescue of Wismond Exantus to take place.

It might never have happened, had not a member of his family approached a Greek journalist on the street and said they had heard noises coming from underneath a building.

The Greek journalist said he also heard the noises, and approached a Greek rescue team. They then went into operation in combination with French and American teams, and pulled the man free from the rubble.

As he was gingerly put on a stretcher and carried towards a waiting ambulance, Wismond Exantus smiled. He didn't say anything but he was, if not totally unharmed, clearly in a very good state of health.

"I survived by drinking Coca-Cola and I ate some little tiny things," Mr Enso, who worked in the hotel's grocery store, told news agency AFP from his bed in a French field hospital.

"Every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press agency.

French medic Gilles Gueney said: "It's amazing but he has no fractures, no broken bones. He's very dehydrated and is now on a drip."

He added that Wismond Exantus was expected to be out of hospital "in a day or two".

Greek, French and US rescue teams were involved in the two-and-a-half-hour operation to bring him out of the remains of the hotel.

A French rescue worker, Lt Col Christophe Renou, described his survival as "a miracle".

He said rescuers - who had been alerted by the man's family - had managed to get water to him while they worked to dig him out.

Lt Col Renou said the man had probably been helped by the fact that the 5-6m (16-20ft) of debris above him was largely wood, rather than concrete.

He said the man had told his rescuers that another four people were trapped with him but that they had stopped moving a couple of days earlier.

The BBC's Adam Mynott, in Port-au-Prince, says some Haitians have questioned the announcement that search-and-rescue operations are to end - and the discovery of Wismond Exantus will have lent weight to their argument.

Drank his own urine

Speaking before Mr Enso's rescue, UN spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs in Geneva said the decision to end the search for survivors was "heartbreaking" but that it had been taken on the advice of experts.

Rescued man Wismond Exantus in hospital
Wismond Exantus, 24 - pulled out alive after 11 days
Emmannuel Buso, 21 - rescued after 10 days
Marie Carida, 84 - saved after 10 days
Mendji Bahina Sanon, 11 - trapped for eight days
Lozama Hotteline, 25 - pulled out after seven days
Elisabeth Joassaint, 15 days - buried for seven days, half her life
Ena Zizi, 69 - rescued after seven days

She said most search-and-rescue teams would now be leaving Haiti, although some with heavy lifting equipment might stay to help with the clean-up operation and with aid distribution.

Two people, an 84-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man, were pulled alive from the rubble in Port-au-Prince on Friday.

The woman, who was found in the wreckage of her home seriously injured and severely dehydrated, was taken to the main city hospital for treatment.

The 21-year-old man, Emmannuel Buso, was rescued by an Israeli search team and is said to be in a stable condition.

Speaking from his hospital bed, he described how he had had no food, and had drunk his own urine to keep thirst at bay.

An estimated 1.5 million people were left homeless by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which some have estimated has killed as many as 200,000 people.

At least 75,000 bodies have so far been buried in mass graves, Haiti's government has said. Many more remain uncollected in the streets.

The UN says 130,000 people have now been relocated out of Port-au-Prince, easing the pressure on overcrowded camps in the city.

'Record' telethon funds

Organisers of the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon, led by George Clooney and Haiti-born rapper Wyclef Jean, said it raised more than $57m (£35m) for the aid effort.

Broadcasting on the radio daily at 0910 local time (1410 GMT)
Twenty-minute programme in Haitian Creole
Broadcasting on FM in Haiti's six largest cities
Also available on satellite and online, and via social media

Friday night's event, which was shown on all major US TV channels, YouTube and on MTV in the UK, set a new record for disaster relief telethons, said Lisa Paulsen, head of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

The BBC has started a new radio service in Creole, one of the country's main languages.

The 20-minute long daily broadcast, called Connexion Haiti, will try to give people up-to-date information about the basic services they need to survive - such as where to find food, clean drinking water, medical assistance and shelter.

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