There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Nepal this week as it copes with a devastating earthquake — but cheers and applause broke out in Kathmandu Thursday after a teenager was pulled alive from a collapsed building.
For five days, the teenager was covered in the rubble of a seven-story building hit by Saturday’s powerful quake. Rescue workers who got him out included an American disaster response team that arrived in Nepal this week.
“The leader of the USAID-sponsored American team was quoted as saying they sent in a camera to find the safest way to extract the teen,” NPR’s Julie McCarthy reports.
“It’s what we call an entombment,” Andrew Olvera, who leads the American team that was involved, tells The Associated Press. “So, he wasn’t specifically crushed. What he was, was inside of a box — a box with heavy concrete all around him.”
Rescuers had to use jacks to pry away the building’s concrete and free the teen, whose age has been variously reported as 18 or 15. The teenager was strapped to a stretcher and was reportedly “dazed” but responsive.
Olvera said his team worked alongside the Nepali crew. The U.S. team includes emergency workers from Los Angeles County and Fairfax County, Va., CBS News reports. USAID said this week that it sent nearly 130 people to Nepal.
Earlier, there had been reports that a second person had been rescued, but those reports have not been confirmed.
The good news comes along with reports of fuel shortages, heavy traffic on the roads around Kathmandu and congestion at its airport — a situation that aid officials say is hampering the relief effort.
Relief aid group Oxfam “says it is looking at ways to transport essential goods overland from India,” the AP reports. “It says challenges include getting aid to remote mountain villages, many of which are connected to the outside world by a single dirt road that may now be blocked by landslides.”
The U.N. launched an appeal for $415 million in emergency funds on Wednesday, to help Nepal cope with the disaster that has killed more than 5,500 people and injured more than 11,000 others, destroyed 70,000 houses and damaged an additional 530,000. Hundreds of thousands of people are reportedly living in rudimentary shelter.
“Emergency health services and medical supplies and facilities, and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are also urgently needed for up to 4.2 million people,” the U.N. says.