PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Rescuers pulled out four people from under the rubble overnight Sunday, including three at a supermarket where at least two more people might have survived in airpockets under five stories of pancaked concrete.
A girl, a boy and a woman were rescued at what had been the five-story supermarket, NBC’s Kerry Sanders reported from Port-au-Prince after having watched rescue work there Saturday.
One official coordinating the rescue efforts there told Sanders that a text message believed sent from under the rubble indicated that “more than 60” people were alive there.
Officials later said that number was probably a mistake, but that in any case rescuers had located two more people and were working to free them.
The rescued woman was identified as Mireille Dittmer, a Haitian-born U.S. resident who was on a business trip when the quake hit Tuesday.
U.S. and Turkish urban rescue teams at the site have said they could hear two distinct groups of people deep inside the sandwiched rubble of the Caribe Market.
The supermarket’s manager, Samer Tahmoush, estimated that there would have been around 75 to 100 shoppers inside the market in the Delmas neighborhood when the quake hit.
The supermarket, one of the biggest in Port-au-Prince, had completely collapsed on itself, its upper layers falling on those below like a squeezed concertina.
Crushed supermarket trolleys were visible between the sandwiched layers of concrete. Also visible were green and orange supermarket shelving and scattered debris and wares like tea bags, cat food, kitchenware, electronic goods and children’s toys, toilet rolls and bathroom sponges.
“We’ve had to cut through three floors from above, we’ve been digging through concrete floors, shelving, food, and everything else you would find in a supermarket,” said Jose Mendia from the FEMA Florida rescue team.
“It’s a really consolidated collapse, what we call a pancake collapse,” he added.
“The best time to get somebody back is within 96 hours, but if they have access to food and water, they could survive longer,” he said. It was believed that some of those trapped deep inside might be able to reach food and water near them.
Tahmoush said many of his staff had managed to run out fast enough and escape being buried. Many others too had been pulled out quickly from the rubble by rescuers.
But Tahmoush said he knew that a number of his employees — cashiers and bag packers — were buried under the wreckage.
Hotel co-owner rescued
In another rescue, the co-owner of the Hotel Montana was pulled out from under the rubble of what had been a luxury hotel. Nadine Cardoso was dehydrated but otherwise uninjured.
“It’s a little miracle,” said Reinhard Riedl, her husband. “She’s one tough cookie. She is indestructible.”
Twelve hours after the rescue effort began, with more than 20 friends and relatives of the prominent community member watching early Sunday, Cardoso was lowered from a hill of debris on a stretcher.
The rescue was bittersweet for Cardoso’s sister, because rescuers also told Gerthe Cardoso they had to abandon a search for her 7-year-old grandson when an aftershock closed a space where he was believed to be.
100,000 dead a minimum?
For many, though, the five days since the magnitude-7.0 quake hit have turned into an aching wait for the food, water and medical care slowly making its way from an overwhelmed airport rife with political squabbles. And while aid is reaching the country, growing impatience among the suffering has spawned some violence.
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Article courtesy of: msnbc.com