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Miracle rises from quake rubble

Bam, Jan. 1 (Reuters): At first they thought he was dead, but as they dug through the ruins, the rescuers realised the young man lying alongside six corpses was blinking and mumbling.

He had been trapped under a wardrobe, which probably saved his life when the world’s most devastating earthquake in decades flattened his home town of Bam in southeast Iran six days ago.

Yadollah Saadat, a 27-year-old shopkeeper, was rescued around 2030 GMT yesterday by Red Crescent workers who had all but given up hope of finding any more survivors in Bam’s mud-brick buildings, nearly all of which collapsed.

“They were taking out the corpses and they found him. They thought he was dead and then they realised he was alive,” Saadat’s wife Fatimeh Asghari, 22, said as medics treated him for a broken hip in a Red Crescent truck at Bam airport. “I can’t express how happy I am,” she said.

An ambulance medic held the dazed man’s face and asked if he could say his name. The man mumbled “Yadollah” several times in reply. His right leg appeared to be covered by a metal splint.

“You can call it a miracle or anything you like,” said Red Crescent worker Ali Asghar Namdari. “I;m just happy. At least we have saved one life. I have been in war and through many struggles and I’ve never been so happy.”

Iran state radio said a nine-year-old girl covered with dust and dirt had also been rescued from the rubble of her family’s flattened house today morning. She was described as in fragile condition but no further details were given.

Many of the 30,000 killed in the pre-dawn quake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale were buried by collapsing ceilings and debris as they slept.

Beside Saadat in his house in northern Bam were corpses of six relatives, including two brothers. Saadat was pinned beneath a toppled wardrobe, which apparently shielded him from the falling roof and other debris. He was first rushed to a field hospital. Today he was flown to Tehran for further treatment.

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