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Six-year-old boy trapped in rubble for two days pulled out alive after Indonesia earthquake

Telegraph, 24 Nov 2022
A six-year-old boy has been pulled alive from the wreckage of a collapsed home in Indonesia after miraculously surviving without food or water for two days since a deadly earthquake killed at least 271 people.

The dramatic rescue of Aksa on Wednesday was captured on camera and revived hopes among aid workers that survivors could still be found in the rubble of buildings that were damaged by a 5.6 magnitude shallow earthquake that hit West Java early on Monday afternoon.

"Once we realised Azka was alive everybody broke into tears, including me," 28-year-old local volunteer Jeksen Kolibu told AFP on Thursday. "It was very moving, it felt like a miracle."

Many of the victims in Monday’s earthquake were schoolchildren, hit by debris in their classrooms. The death toll is expected to rise as many people in the area near the epicentre, some 60 miles from the capital, Jakarta, remain missing.

Rescuers have struggled to reach some of the worst affected villages due to landslides and heavy monsoon rains, which have caused misery for survivors in makeshift shelters and overflowing hospitals where patients are being treated on stretchers in the street.

Fadli Usman, head of the response team with Save the Children, told the Telegraph aid heading towards the disaster zone was being blocked by heavy traffic jams on roads that had partially collapsed.

Aksa was found next to his dead grandmother. His mother was also killed in the earthquake and he had been saved only by a wall that had stopped another collapsed wall from falling on him.

"He was found on the left side of the house, on a bed. He was protected by a pillow and there was a 10-centimetre gap between him and the concrete slab," said Mr Kolibu. "Such a narrow space, it was dark, hot and there was not enough hole for air."

"We didn't expect him to still be alive after 48 hours, if we knew we would have tried harder the night before," he said.

"For all the years since I became a volunteer, I've never seen anything like this. How can you not cry?"

The video showed the dazed and traumatised boy, still dressed in the blue shirt and trousers he had been wearing on Monday, being carried from the scene by a rescue worker. Another man ran alongside to hold the child’s hand to comfort him.

Mr Usman said Save the Children would be working in the area for months to help children recover.

“We must consider the psychological impact on the affected children. They can't express what they feel. But the trauma can stick. If not cured, then it will stick until they grow up. This is what we try to avoid,” he said.

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