Teen found alive in rubble 15 days after earthquake

By Ben Fox and Gregory Bull
Associated Press / January 28, 2010

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - French rescuers pulled a teenage girl - very dehydrated, with a broken left leg, and moments from death - from the rubble of a home near the destroyed St. Gerard University yesterday, a stunning recovery 15 days after an earthquake devastated the city.

Darlene Etienne was rushed to a French military field hospital and then to the French military hospital ship Sirroco, groaning through an oxygen mask with her eyes open in a lost stare.

“She’s alive!’’ said paramedic Paul Francois-Valette, who accompanied her into the hospital.

Authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water, let alone more than two weeks. But Etienne, 17, may have had some access to water from a bathroom of the collapsed home.

“We thought she was dead,’’ her cousin, Jocelyn A. St. Jules, said.

After being alerted by neighbors, rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along a crumbled roof, heard her voice, and saw a little bit of dust-covered black hair in the rubble. Clearing away debris, he managed to reach the young woman and see she was alive.