Haiti declares search-and-rescue phase over

The Jerusalem Post (Link) - Yaakov Katz (January 23, 2010)

IDF Home Front Command teams rescued a 22-year-old man from a building near the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince on Friday, nearly 10 days after a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti.

International search teams have rescued 132 people since the 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Haiti�s government has confirmed 111,481 deaths and has also counted some 609,000 people without shelter in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. On Saturday night, French rescue workers also located a man in a vegetable store who had been trapped since the quake.

The man saved by the IDF, Emmannuel Buso, was in stable condition, and was being treated at the IDF field hospital. Buso said that he survived 10 days under the rubble by drinking his own urine and spent most of his time in a listless daze, at times dreaming of his mother and thinking that he had in fact died. �I am here today because God wants it,� he said.

Maj. Zohar Moshe, a member of the rescue force, said they succeeded in rescuing Buso within half an hour and after digging a three-meter tunnel through the rubble. The IDF teams were alerted to the scene after American and French doctors were unable to rescue the trapped man.

Buso, a slender student and tailor with deep-set eyes, said he had just come out of the shower when the quake hit. �I felt the house dancing around me,� he said from his bed, covered by a reflective heat blanket in the hospital field tent. �I didn�t know if I was up or down.�

He passed out and lay in a daze, dreaming at times that he could hear his mother crying. The furniture in his room had collapsed around him in such a way that it created a small space for him amid the ruins of the house. He had no food. When he got desperately thirsty, he drank his urine.

�I was very scared,� he said. �My heart was jumping.�

On Saturday, OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, who recently returned from Haiti, said that the Israeli delegation would decide on Sunday whether it was returning home or extending its mission.

On Sunday, once the American hospital starts functioning, Golan plans to hold consultations with the IDF brass about returning to Israel.

There is a possibility that replacements for current members of the delegation will be sent to Haiti if the IDF decides to remain on the island.

Golan said that more than 750 people have been treated in the IDF hospital, 200 of whom underwent surgery.

�We have a lot to learn from what happened in Haiti so we can be better prepared for similar situations in Israel,� he said.

Also on Saturday, the Haitian government announced an end to search-and-rescue efforts, stressing that the humanitarian and relief efforts were still being ramped up.

UN spokeswoman Elizebeth Byrs told The Associated Press that rescue teams still searching through the rubble would not be prevented from carrying out whatever work they felt necessary. �It doesn�t mean the government will order them to stop. In case there is the slightest sign of life, they will act.�

But she added: �Except for miracles, hope is unfortunately fading.�

Also on Friday, an 84-year-old woman was pulled from the remains of her home, according to doctors administering oxygen and intravenous fluids to her at the General Hospital. Doctors said she was in critical condition.

Earlier in the day, a 69-year-old woman was pulled from the wreckage of a building.

Keep the Haitians and workers in your prayers.