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Fifteen Days Below Rubble: Final Quake Survivor in Haiti?

January 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Robert Moore of Independent Television News reports on the dramatic rescue of a teenage girl in Haiti more than two weeks after the quake.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We move on to Haiti where the country’s president told the “NewsHour” today that Haitians themselves will ultimately be responsible for solving the country’s problems. We will have that interview in a moment, but, first, the remarkable rescue of a teenage Haitian girl trapped under the rubble for more than two weeks.

Robert Moore of Independent Television News reports from Port-au-Prince.

ROBERT MOORE: Darlene is recovering from her ordeal, a story of survival that has astonished doctors — 360 hours she endured under the rubble, waiting and knocking, hoping and praying.

Her medical team is confident she will fully recover. And rescuers can take some pride that one more life has been saved amid nearly 200,000 lost. Her rescue began yesterday, as, first, locals and then French firefighters battled to extract her. Then, slowly, Darlene emerged, at first, a single limp hand, but, remarkably, showing signs of life.

Delicately, her rescuers pulled her out, knowing Darlene had survived against all the odds. Bewildered, at one point, she seems to call out for her mother.

The teenager was carried away to applause.

That she survived for this long in the heat and in the horror is testimony to her physical resilience and to an extraordinary inner strength.

She was saved because people retrieving possessions from this area heard a faint tapping noise deep below them. It was these workmen sifting through the wreckage like this who first heard Darlene’s knocking. Her miraculous rescue raises one excruciating question: Could there be one or two more people still trapped, but alive, out here in the rubble?

It is just possible, but only if they were trapped like Darlene was, with access to water. The workmen say they will continue to listen out for new signs of life beneath them. And the French rescue teams we have been with insist they’re continuing to search, but mainly because some people may have been buried in subsequent aftershocks.

So, Darlene is perhaps the last survivor of a tragedy that has changed this nation forever.