Three days after a building collapse in Nairobi, Kenya, rescue workers were starting to look for bodies and not survivors.
So, a discovery in the early morning hours Tuesday came as a shock and a morale boost as a baby girl was discovered, wrapped in a blanket and stowed in a bucket. She was alive despite spending 80 hours trapped in the rubble, CNN reported.
For Red Cross EMT Bonny Odhiambo, who led the rescue team, finding six-month-old Dealeryn Saisi Wasike made him think of his own children.
“(The) guys were saying it’s a miracle for the baby girl to have been in there without a scratch. It’s scary, I have kids of my own, I took it like it was my own child, it was like she was my baby. I had faith that we could save her.”
And save her he did. Dealeryn was stabilized after being found emaciated on the first floor of the residential building, the Star, Kenya reported. She was pulled out of the debris at 4 a.m. local time, appeared dehydrated but didn’t seem to be injured.
Odhiambo was worried about hypothermia, since rains had fallen and made the building cold and wet, and the effect of the dust on her lungs, but the baby appeared to be fine. She’s been reunited with her father, but the fate of her mother is still unknown, Reuters reported.
She was found by a military search and rescue team, which was using equipment that detects breathing through debris.
Her positioning in the bucket may have saved her life in a collapse that has killed at least 23 people. About 136 others have been pulled from the rubble after the building collapse in the capital of Kenya on Friday and dozens are still missing. It’s not clear if they’d escaped and haven’t yet been accounted for, or are still in the rubble.
Nathan Kigotho of Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Center said the rescue process is dangerous.
“We are trying to speed up but we have to be cautious. Some people are lucky and survive through air pockets well beyond our expectations… We have to go slowly and carefully.”
The building collapse occurred in Nairobi’s poor Huruma district. According to CBS News, the building was initially believed to be six stories, but later it was discovered that its ground and first floors had sunk after heavy rains. The cause of the collapse hasn’t been determined, but residents said that the bottom floors crumbled first.
The collapse has highlighted the city’s epidemic of hastily and poorly constructed residential buildings, shoddily put up as Nairobi tries to accommodate an influx of people looking for work.
The building where little Dealeryn was found had no construction plan and the building had never been approved. It had been built close to a river and therefore scheduled for demolition, but local officials never followed through.
Five people are now facing charges of manslaughter over the collapse — officials from the National Construction Authority, City Hall’s inspectorate department, an engineer in charge of the site, and the two brothers who own the house, the Star added.
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has ordered that other buildings in the area be inspected to determine whether they’re at risk of collapse; if so, residents will be ordered to evacuate.
The high demand for housing in Nairobi, Kenya has spurned property developers to cut corners in order to maximize profits. This has resulted in a sobering fact: 58 percent of the city’s buildings are unfit for habitation. Most of the city’s 4 million residents live in poor neighborhoods.
“People who’ve died in Huruma have died an unnecessary death,” said Kenya legislator Johnson Sakaja. “That death is a product of corruption… someone is paid $10,000 or $20,000 to approve the building that cost the lives of Kenyans.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, a 72-year-old man was rescued from the rubble of a building in Ecuador, three weeks after it was toppled by an earthquake.
[Photo by Sayyid Abdul Azim/AP]