On April 29th a six story building in Kenya’s capital Nairobi collapsed after heavy rainfall. The building was home to one hundred and fifty families and there have been 36 confirmed deaths, while between 70 and 80 people are still missing. But there have also been a few small miracles, the only silver lining that catastrophes like these have.
On May 3rd, a baby had been rescued from the rubble, four days after the building had collapsed. Dealeryn Saisi Wasike is nearly six months old and although she sadly lost her mother, her overjoyed father welcomed the baby after its rescue. Ralson Saisi Wasike, the child’s father, had been searching for his child for days. He had gone to nearby hospitals, hoping to find his daughter alive, and mortuaries, dreading to find her body. Instead he was located by the Kenyan Red Cross in the shelter he had been staying in and was reunited with his dehydrated but otherwise uninjured daughter. Since small children have little muscle mass and contain more water than grown ups they are less likely to dehydrate quickly.
On May 5th, another miracle rescue took place. Six days after the collapse the Kenyan Red Cross announced via Twitter that they had rescued another four survivors. Among these four survivors there was a woman, who was, according to her husband, eight months pregnant.
The search and rescue team had found the woman on Thursday morning and provided her with oxygen until she could be freed from the rubble three hours later. The 24-year-old was in a weak condition but apparently mostly unharmed. She had alerted the rescue workers by crying for help and was conscious during her rescue.
Apparently nine pet rabbits were also found on Thursday, something that many may see as insignificant in comparison to the many human deaths, but that nevertheless lends hope to the rescue workers. Any living animal or human to be rescued allows them to believe that they will find more survivors.
Buildings have been collapsing fairly regularly in Kenya over the past years. Since the country is experiencing a construction boom, many houses are being erected too quickly and remain unstable and shaky. In 2015 alone, eight buildings had collapsed, though the death toll was not as high as in this week’s collapse. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for audits of all buildings to fight the problem.
The particular house that collapsed last week had been marked for demolition already and the building’s owner, Samuel Karanja Kamau, had no permit anymore to rent the 119 rooms to people. Karanja Kamau and another owner are now being charged with manslaughter and were arrested shortly after the collapse. They were released on bail on Wednesday.
Building collapses are often associated with many deaths, yet in most cases there is also some sort of a miracle rescue. After the tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh in May 2013, a woman was rescued an incredible seventeen days after the collapse. The collapse of the factory had been one of the deadliest in history, killing more than a thousand people.
After the earthquake in Haiti, rescue workers experienced two miracles after another, when the rescued a man eleven days after the collapse of an hotel, and just one day later found another surviving man under the debris of what once was a shop.
But perhaps the most miraculous rescue was that of a forty-year-old woman from Kashmir, who was rescued an incredible two months after an earthquake shook South Asia. She apparently had survived for that long because she was trapped in her kitchen, where she had access to food, and managed to drink rain water.