'Miracle' in Nairobi: Baby rescued from rubble days after building collapse

By Elahe Izadi

People help survivors retrieve their household items at the site of a building collapse in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo / AP
People help survivors retrieve their household items at the site of a building collapse in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo / AP

In the days since a six-storey building collapsed in Kenya's capital, rescuers have been busy trying to pull people out of the rubble.

It has been grim work: More than 20 people are confirmed dead, with dozens more unaccounted for after the building crashed down on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Kenya Red Cross officials described the chances of finding more survivors as "slim." Then today, something incredible happened: Rescue workers found a baby girl in all that rubble.

A 6-month-old, wrapped up in a blanket, had spent 80 hours inside a bucket in the wreckage. And though she appeared to be dehydrated, she had "no visible physical injuries," the Red Cross said.

The "guys were saying it's a miracle for the baby girl to have been in there without a scratch," Bonny Odhiambo, a Red Cross EMT who led the rescue team, told CNN.

Ralson Saisi Wasike identified the baby as his daughter, the Red Cross said.

"Through their efforts, through their patience, through their hearts that are human, that's why people like us, we can smile," Wasike said at a news conference, during which he thanked rescuers. "I'm very sorry and I feel so, too, because we have some other people who have not yet found their people."

The fate of the baby's mother is unclear, AP reported. The baby girl was taken to a hospital for treatment, the Red Cross said.

"I was worried that her lungs would be affected by the dust, and that she might have hypothermia as it was cold and wet down there due to the rain," Odhiambo told CNN. "But she was breathing."

Heavy rains and flash flooding plagued the area before the building collapsed in Huruma, a poor neighbourhood in Nairobi.

Officials ordered the building's owner to turn himself in to police for questioning, AP reported.

Although the building had been marked for demolition because of its proximity to a river, local officials hadn't followed through on the order, according to the Kenyan Interior Ministry, Reuters reported.

Poorly constructed and uninhabitable dwellings are a major problem in Nairobi, which is struggling to keep up with its growing population of more than three million people. More than half of the city's buildings were deemed unfit to live in, according to a report by the National Construction Authority.

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an audit of the country's buildings after at least 15 people died in eight building collapses, AP reported.

- Washington Post

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