Manuel Vasquez, 72, Survived Two Weeks After Ecuador Earthquake Trapped Between Walls

A rescue team has made a miraculous discovery in the rubble of Ecuador’s strongest earthquake long after they expected to find any survivors.

A 72-year-old man named Manuel Vasquez was found in the remains of a building that had partially collapsed during the earthquake that struck Ecuador an astonishing two weeks before.

He’d survived without food or water, wedged between the walls of a room, the Guardian reported.

The recovery of Vazquez came on Friday as rescuers from Venezuela combed the fishing town of Jaramijó. The team was from the Fuerza de Tarea Humanitaria Simón Bolívar.

Those searching for survivors after the earthquake in Ecuador had, days prior, stopped expecting to find survivors and believed they had rescued the last people from the ruins.

They were performing a building inspections in the town when they heard something crying out nearby, ABC News reported. They soon discovered that the sounds were coming from a partially collapsed building.

The rescuers entered the damaged structure and were stunned to find the disoriented and injured Manuel very much alive.

Vazquez is in bad shape, however, and two days later still remains in the hospital.

After spending the two weeks since the earthquake trapped, the 72-year-old hasn’t had any food or water and was found to be in chronic renal failure. He was also dehydrated, malnourished, suffered an issue with his urinary tract, and was reported to be confused and disoriented.

The man had also lost several of his toes, and doctors found necrosis in both his ankles (necrosis is essentially the death of tissue caused by disease, injury, or loss of blood supply).

According to CNN, it’s not clear how Manuel survived for 13 days. Experts say survivors need air supply, first and foremost, to survive, but also require water and food. Media reports indicate he had neither.

Of course, Vasquez isn’t the first miraculous story of seemingly impossible survival. In 2010, a 31-year-old man lived two weeks under rubble after the earthquake in Haiti, but he’d found a two-gallon jug of water. In the same quake, another person claimed to have survived 10 weeks trapped.

It has been a very difficult couple weeks in Ecuador following the earthquake, which hit the country’s coast on April 16 and caused damage in several towns, the Independent reported. A second earthquake struck a week later and caused even more damage.

The earthquake registered a magnitude of 7.8 and killed more than 650 people. Tens of thousands are injured and dozens are still missing.

Strong tremors and 700 aftershocks have followed the initial earthquake. Little damage resulted, and rumblings are expected in Ecuador for several weeks.

The earthquake was the strongest Ecuador has seen since 1979, said Vice President Jorge Glas.

Survivors have gotten food, water, and medicine from the government and foreign aid workers, but poor road conditions have delayed supplies to some communities.

About 1,200 volunteers have helped the beleaguered country through rescue efforts, evacuation, and first aid. Ecuador’s military and police have been keeping order, and 10,000 armed forces personnel are helping survivors along the coast.

Almost 7,000 buildings have been destroyed and 26,000 people are living in shelters. The damage is estimated to cost between $2 and $3 billion.

Ecuador’s government is already making moves to pay for the country’s recovery.

President Rafael Correa has announced a rise in the value added tax from 12 to 14 percent in the next year to help pay to fix the damage. The country’s millionaires will be hit with an additional tax of 0.9 percent their wealth as a one-time measure, the Independent added.

[Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP Images]