January 24, 2010 in Nation/World

Survivor rescued after 11 days buried in rubble

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A man is carried by a search and rescue team Saturday after being trapped in rubble for 11 days in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
(Full-size photo)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – An international team of rescuers unearthed a shop clerk in good condition from deep beneath the concrete and wooden wreckage of a hotel grocery store Saturday, 11 days after an earthquake crumbled Haiti’s capital.

Dozens of onlookers wearing masks against the stench of the city’s decaying bodies cheered when Wismond Exantus, clad in a black T-shirt and black pants, was carried from a narrow tunnel on a stretcher and placed in an ambulance. He braced one arm with the other.

“I was hungry,” Exantus told the Associated Press from his hospital bed soon after the rescue. “But every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive.”

Exantus, who is in his 20s, said he survived initially by diving under a desk when the rubble started to fall around him. Trapped in such a small space, he had to lie on his back the entire time and survived by drinking cola, beer and cookies.

“I would eat anything I found,” he said. “After the quake I didn’t know when it was day and when it was night.

“It was God who was tucking me away in his arms. It gave me strength,” he added.

One of the man’s brothers, Jean Elit Jean Pierre, said Exantus worked as a cashier in the grocery store on the ground floor of the Hotel Napoli. The brothers persuaded rescuers to save Exantus.

From his hospital bed, Exantus turned to his family and said, “When you are in a hole I will try to reach out to you, too.”

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