A collapsed building has left 23 dead in Nairobi, Kenya. So far, 136 have been rescued from the formerly 7-story structure, located in the Huruma district. Among the survivors is Dealeryn Saisi Wasike, a 6-month old child. She was discovered wrapped in a light blue blanket and placed inside of a bucket. This positioning, along with specialized equipment designed to detect breathing, saved her life.
The building collapsed last Friday, but the girl was not discovered until 4am Tuesday. After spending 80 hours trapped in the rubble, authorities were worried about lung damage, hypothermia, and other potential health problems. However, the girl was found to be almost completely unscathed. Although there were no ambulances available, she was immediately taken to Kenyatta National Hospital via another rescue vehicle, where she was treated for dehydration.
"(They) were saying it's a miracle for the baby girl to have been in there without a scratch," said Bonny Odhiambo, the Red Cross EMT in charge of the rescue team. "We were just holding her and saying 'Go! Go! Go!”
“It's scary,” stated Odhiambo, thinking of her own children. “I took it like it was my own child, it was like she was my baby. I had faith that we could save her."
Dealeryn is not the only small child to have been rescued. In fact, hours after the disaster, the crowd of spectators erupted into cheers when a man emerged from the rubble holding a baby wrapped in a blanket. A toddler was later rescued as well. However, after 3 days of rescue efforts, morale was quickly diminishing. Many survivors managed to stay alive, fortunate enough to have access to small air pockets in the debris, but workers have been forced to take rescue efforts extremely slowly in order to help as many as possible. The recovery of this young child, which is being deemed as a miracle by witnesses, may be just what workers needed to keep spirits high.
Following treatment, Dealeryn was promptly reunited with her father, who was very grateful to have his daughter back. He was very touched by the fact that she recognized his voice. “I called her and she responded, and at the same time she lifted her hand,” he said tearfully. Although the mother died in the collapse, the father is doing his best to stay positive. “I found my daughter, I am happy for that.”
The owner of the building has been taken into police custody, as the building had previously been condemned by the National Construction Authority. It was an old building, and combined with heavy rains and other technical problems, it just couldn’t hold up any longer. According to the National Police Service, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has asked disaster authorities to survey other houses in the area, determine which may be likely to collapse, and move the residents out. Owners of any unstable structures will be arrested, in order to prevent this tragedy from repeating.
It just goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining. Although many are dead, we are seeing more and more survivors. Hopefully, with the efforts of the Kenyan president, further disasters like this one will be prevented.