1. Home
  2. World
  3. Three-Week-Old Baby Pulled From Haiti Quake

Three-Week-Old Baby Pulled From Haiti Quake Rubble Alive

A baby who was just 11 days old when the Haiti earthquake struck has become one of its most amazing survival stories. No one believed that Elisabeth Joassaint could have lived as the family home
PTI January 22, 2010 11:32 IST
PTI

A baby who was just 11 days old when the Haiti earthquake struck has become one of its most amazing survival stories.

No one believed that Elisabeth Joassaint could have lived as the family home was crushed by the weight of its upper storey.

It was a full seven days later that a French rescue team returned to the ruins to search for the baby's body - and heard faint cries, reports The Mail, London.

She had only suffered a few scratches and was reunited with her mother Michel

Incredibly, Elisabeth was alive in a tiny hollow beneath the devastation, still lying on the bed where her mother Michelene had placed her moments before the quake hit on January 12.

Yesterday Mrs Joassaint, 22, sat in the shade of a makeshift tented hospital, clutching Elisabeth and giving thanks for what she called 'a miracle and the mercy of God.'

Her husband Michelet, 47, said : 'Everybody knew the baby was dead, except the Lord. This wasn't the way Jesus wanted the baby to die.'

Mrs Joassaint said she had just fed Elisabeth and laid her down when the quake struck. She tried desperately to save her baby but was forced back as walls collapsed around her.

Elisabeth with her mother Michel who had believed she was dead for seven days

The grieving couple were living on a football field when a messenger from the French team arrived to say Elisabeth was alive and they were working to free her.

'I just cried and ran to my baby,' Mrs Joassaint said, 'I just could not believe she had been spared or that one so new to life, with so little strength, could have survived the collapsing walls with no injury at all.'

Port-au-Prince aid worker Sabine Pookey said: 'We are seeing astonishing stories of survival and rescue...it sustains the hope of finding more and shows the resilience of a child's body at a time of so much tragedy.'

More than 120 people have been rescued from the rubble and international teams continued to search for more yesterday with a British group, from Rapid UK, searching through a school where 100 children are missing.

The ruins of Elisabeth's house, which partially collapsed in the earthquake

But for every survivor, the teams are finding dozens of dead. On the the sparsely populated wasteland of Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, burial workers are burying them in hastily prepared mass graves holding 10,000 each. So far 80,000 have been buried, but the death toll is now estimated to be 200,000.

Those working in the sickening stench and misery of Titanyen are haunted night and day by the never-ending flow of the dead.

'I have seen so many children, so many children, I cannot sleep at night and if I do, it is a constant nightmare,' said Foultone Fequiert, 38.

The baby's rescue follows the astonishing story of a seven-year-old boy named Kiki who had been trapped for eight days.

He was pulled free with his arms wide open and eyes sparkling with joy to be handed over to his weeping mother's embrace.

He and his elder sister Sabrina were in their home in Port-au-Prince when the devastating earthquake struck Haiti last week.

Little boy lost and found: Kiki stretches out his arms to his sobbing mother after being pulled from the rubble

All hope seemed to be lost for the pair since people can rarely last more than three days without food and water.

But their mother remained by the ruins of the house praying for their survival. And yesterday she was there to call out words of comfort to her children as a U.S. rescue team lifted away the shattered concrete which buried them.

Kiki and Sabrina were gaunt but unharmed, and were treated in an Israeli field hospital where they were reunited with their father.

'It is a miracle, an absolute miracle,' said Dr David Cash of Virginia Task Force Two after treating Sabrina. 'She is in remarkable shape. It is an unbelievable feeling.'

In another story of hope, more than 100 Haitian orphans flew into Holland yesterday to be welcomed by their new adoptive parents.

All of the children arriving at the Eindhoven military airbase had been in the process of being adopted before the earthquake.

But moves by countries to fast-track adoption processes have attracted criticism.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said foreign adoption of Haitian children should only be considered as a last resort.

It said children whose parents are dead or unaccounted for should if possible be reunited with their extended family.

Meanwhile, those who survived in Port-au-Prince are caught in an appalling medical crisis, with hospitals overwhelmed and doctors operating with only local painkillers.

Doctors Without Borders said there were 10 to 12-day backlogs at some of its sites and many people's untreated wounds have become dangerously infected.