After 5 days under rubble, Nepalese woman rescued by Israeli-led team
In painstaking, 10-hour operation, Krishna Devi Khadka, 24, pulled to safety from under collapsed hotel; young boy also rescued
An Israeli-led rescue team pulled a Nepalese woman out of the rubble in the capital Kathmandu on Thursday, five days after a massive earthquake leveled much of the city, killing some 6,000 people.
Workers from the Israeli group IsraAID, along with local soldiers and a team of experts from France and Norway, worked into the night for 10 hours to pull Krishna Devi Khadka to safety.
Khadka, 24, had been stuck underneath a collapsed hotel alongside three bodies and could only breathe due to an air pocket that formed alongside her, IsraAid said in a statement. She was then hospitalized in the Israeli field hospital.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” said IsraAid’s Yotam Polizer. “It was hard to believe that anyone could have survived for that long.”
It was the second such rescue in a day, after a 15-year-old boy was extracted from the rubble of another hotel just streets away.
“When the young woman was finally extracted and carried away to a waiting ambulance, it was to the great relief of the large crowd that had gathered, bringing hope that others may yet be alive,” IsraAid Director Shachar Zahavi said.
Nepalese soldiers and the huge team of experts who had worked on the rescue cheered and clapped as Khadka — a rare survivor — was carried away by stretcher.
As the ambulance sped away, the team returned to the building as signs of a potential second survivor were felt, Zahavi said.
“She was injured but she was conscious and talking,” a Nepal Army major told an AFP reporter at the scene. “She has been sent to a military hospital.”
“It is as though she had been born again,” he said.
Earlier, US and Nepalese rescuers pulled out 15-year-old survivor Pemba Tamang. But the recovery of another teenager’s body from the same ruins only minutes later underlined how the prospects of finding further survivors of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake are becoming more remote.
“I never thought I would make it out alive,” the teenager told AFP at the Israeli field hospital, where he was being kept for observation.
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. “When I came to, I was trapped under the debris and there was total darkness.”
“I heard other people’s voices screaming out for help around me… but I felt helpless,” he said.
Asked if he had had anything to eat while he was trapped, Pemba said he had come across a jar of ghee (clarified butter) in the dark.
“I don’t know where it came from,” he added.
Libby Weiss, a spokeswoman at the Israeli field hospital, said Pemba was doing “remarkably well”, confirming he did not have any major injuries.
“He was under the rubble for 120 hours and it is certainly the longest we have heard anybody of being under the rubble and surviving,” she told AFP. “I don’t have any logical explanation. It is miraculous. It is a wonderful thing to see in all this destruction.”
Israel’s field hospital in Nepal began operating Wednesday morning, with staff treating nearly 100 patients and delivering their first baby — a boy — on the first day, an IDF spokesperson said.
Among the patients were some 30 Israeli nationals. Most were suffering from dehydration and were soon released to their hotels.
Over 250 doctors and rescue personnel were part of an IDF delegation that landed Tuesday in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated large swaths of the mountainous country, killing some 6,000 — the death toll could eventually soar to 10,000, Nepalese officials said — and leaving thousands more wounded and tens of thousands seeking shelter and food.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.