Story of the teenager who was pulled from the rubble

Pemba Tamang

Pemba had been trapped under the collapsed debris of a seven-story building in Kathmandu since Saturday, when the earthquake struck.

Hundreds cheered as the 15-year-old, identified by police as Pemba Tamang, was pulled out of the wreckage, dazed and dusty, and carried away on a stretcher. A huge crowd cheered as Pemba emerged, dazed, blinking into the sunlight.

Pemba’s rescue is just one out of a series of incredible rescue stories, which have included a four-month-old baby discovered alive 22 hours after the quake hit, and the rescue of 28-year-old Rishi Khanal, who had spent 80 hours under concrete drinking his own urine.

Pemba had been trapped under the collapsed debris of a seven-story building in Kathmandu since Saturday, when the earthquake struck.

Nepalese rescuers, supported by an American disaster response team, had been working for hours to free him. L.B. Basnet, the police officer who crawled into a gap to reach Tamang, said he was surprisingly responsive.

“He thanked me when I first approached him,” said Basnet. “He told me his name, his address, and I gave him some water. I assured him we were near to him.”

When Tamang was lifted out, his face was covered in dust, and medics had put an IV drop into his arm.

A brace had been placed around his neck. He appeared stunned, and his eyes blinked in the sunlight as workers hurriedly carried him away. Pemba was taken to a field hospital where he was found to have only minor cuts and bruises.

“I never thought I would make it out alive,” the teenager told AFP at the Israeli military-run facility.

Recounting the moment he was pulled from a hole at the bottom of what was once a seven-story building in Kathmandu, Pempa Tamang said that “all of the sudden, I saw light”.

The teen did not know whether he was alive or dead. “I thought I was hallucinating,” he said.

Pemba, who worked at the guesthouse as a bellboy, said he had been eating lunch next to reception when the ground started shaking.

“I tried to run but … something fell on my head and I lost consciousness — I’ve no idea for how long,” he said.

Emergency worker Roman Schulze said rescuers pulled a second person, kitchen worker Krishna Devi Khadka, from the rubble. She had also been trapped for five days.

Khadka, who is in her thirties, was found buried just streets away from where Pemba had been rescued. Loud cheers erupted from the multinational team of rescuers who had worked into the night to save her.

Rescue workers carry Krishna Khadka, who was pulled out alive from a collapsed building by a rescue force including Nepalese soldiers and a team of experts

Rescue workers carry Krishna Khadka, who was pulled out alive from a collapsed building by a rescue force including Nepalese soldiers and a team of experts

Emergency workers from France, Norway and Israel operating with the Nepal army and using listening devices to find survivors took 10 hours to free Khadka once they had discovered her.

“She was injured but she was conscious and talking,” a Nepal army major said.

The recovery of another teenager’s body in the same area underlined how the prospects of finding further survivors of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake were becoming more remote.

Libby Weiss, a spokeswoman at the Israeli field hospital, said Pemba was doing “remarkably well”.

“I don’t have any logical explanation. It is miraculous. It is a wonderful thing to see in all this destruction.”


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