Quake brother and sister alive after ten days under rubble

Monday, February 05, 2001
Soldiers on a last ditch search have dug out a brother and sister who survived 10 days under the rubble after India's earthquake, living off crackers and water.

The team of 20 soldiers had been touring Bhuj, a city flattened by the January 26 quake, when they heard faint sounds from under a pile of rubble.

Clearing away broken masonry and twisted metal with their hands and cutters, the soldiers found the man and woman, siblings who appeared to be in their 50s.

"Everyone had given up hope of finding any survivors. This is a miracle," said Bakshi Singh, inspector general of the Border Security Force.

"They were too much in shock and couldn't say who they were," said Singh. They had survived off a small box of crackers and some water, he added.

The dramatic rescue came even as demolition teams were clearing away the ruins of collapsed apartment buildings in Bhuj and other towns of India's western Gujarat state, and authorities turned to the monumental task of sheltering some 600,000 people left homeless by the quake.

The earthquake, which was centred 12 miles from Bhuj, has killed more than 17,000 people, and the toll is expected to rise to 30,000 as more bodies are found when rubble is cleared, said Gujarat's Home Minister Haren Pandya.

The injured numbers 66,758, Gujarat state officials say, estimating 34 million of the state's 45 million people have been affected.

The dead have been cleared from all but three of 400 villages in the region most affected by the quake, and nearly all of the remaining bodies are buried in larger towns. The recovery of bodies was expected to end midweek.