‘A Miracle': Pregnant Woman, 3 Others Rescued 6 Days After Kenya Building Collapse

The death toll from the disaster has risen to 36 and 70 people are still missing

Four people, including a pregnant woman, were rescued Thursday after being trapped for six days in a collapsed apartment building in the Kenyan capital, a Kenyan officials said.

Nairobi's police chief Japheth Koome said two women and a man were rescued late Thursday after a woman who is eight months pregnant was freed from the rubble of the seven-story structure that fell amid heavy rains and killed 36 people.

A crowd broke into applause as Elizabeth Night Odhiambo, under a blanket and with her face covered with an oxygen mask, was carried away on a stretcher to an ambulance in a scene broadcast live on Kenyan TV.

"I cannot say the happiness I have," said her husband, Stephen Onyango. "I have never had such happiness like this in my life."

The truck driver said his 24-year-old wife was eight months pregnant.

"This is a miracle," said Pius Masai, head of the unit. 

Before military engineers broke through slabs of concrete that had trapped her in a small corner of her room in the building, medics had managed to give her oxygen and an intravenous drip of water and glucose, according to Kenya's Disaster Management Unit.

"We are very happy that even after six days, someone has been found alive," said Abbas Gullet, head of the Kenya Red Cross.

On Tuesday, a nearly 6-month-old girl was found alive in a washbasin in the debris, raising hopes for more survivors in the April 29 collapse of the building.

At least 70 people remain missing, Gullet said, and rescuers were working around the clock to find any other survivors. Authorities initially used backhoes in the search, with firefighters and volunteers also removing chunks of debris by hand in the frantic rescue effort. A day after the collapse, the military brought in special equipment. President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the scene.

Odhiambo was found after trained dogs were brought in, along with special equipment to detect breathing and movement, said military spokesman Col. David Obonyo.

Authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water in such instances.

Following the 2013 collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, a 19-year-old woman was rescued after being trapped in the rubble for 17 days, surviving on four packets of cookies and some water. It was the worst garment-industry disaster in history, killing 1,127 people.

In Haiti's 2010 earthquake, a 17-year-old girl was found severely dehydrated and near death in a collapsed home 15 days after the quake struck. Rescuers said she may have had access to water from a bathroom.

The April 29 collapse in Nairobi's low-income Huruma neighborhood that killed 36 people and injured more than 130 came amid Kenya's April-May rainy season. The Kenya Red Cross said 150 building units and adjacent homes were affected in local .

A neighbor said the collapsed building had been constructed rapidly and poorly, and its 126 single rooms were snapped up quickly at a rent of $35 per month.

It was built less than 5 meters (15 feet) from a river, when it should have been six times that distance, said local lawmaker Steven Kariuki. The National Construction Authority said it had marked the building as unfit for habitation, but the county government failed to follow up.

The building's two owners were taken into custody but released on $5,000 bail Wednesday, pending formal charges.

Most of Nairobi's 4 million people live in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand, and unscrupulous developers often bypass regulations to maximize their profits.

After eight buildings collapsed and killed 15 people in the country last year, Kenyatta ordered an audit of all the country's buildings to see if they are up to code. The National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in Nairobi are unfit for habitation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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