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French rescue workers pull girl from earthquake debris in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

French rescue workers carry a girl on a stretcher after she was pulled from rubble near St. Gerard University in Port-au-Prince. 

Associated Press

French rescue workers carry a girl on a stretcher after she was pulled from rubble near St. Gerard University in Port-au-Prince. 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — French rescue workers pulled a teenage girl from the rubble of a home near the destroyed St. Gerard University on Wednesday, a stunning recovery 15 days after an earthquake devastated the city.

Darlene Etienne, near death from dehydration and with a broken leg, was rushed to a French military field hospital and then to a hospital ship, groaning through an oxygen mask, with her eyes open in a lost stare.

Her family said Etienne, 17, had just started studying when the disaster struck, trapping dozens of students and staffers in the rubble of school buildings, hostels and nearby homes.

"We thought she was dead," her cousin, Jocelyn A. St. Jules, said in a telephone call from Marche Dessalines, a town north of the capital.

Neighbors who heard a voice coming from the rubble of a private home down the road from the collapsed university called officials, who brought in the search and rescue team Wednesday.

Rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along the dangerously crumbled roof and heard the voice. He said he cleared some debris and managed to reach the young woman.

The team then dug a hole big enough to give Etienne some oxygen and water. She had a very weak pulse, but within 45 minutes, the team managed to remove her, covered in dust, from what appeared to be the collapsed porch area of the home.

"Before we stabilized her, she was extremely dehydrated and weak," Fuilla said. "She had a very low blood pressure. She couldn't really talk to us or say how long she'd been there, but I think she'd been there since the earthquake. I don't think she could have survived even a few more hours."

French rescue workers pull girl from earthquake debris in Port-au-Prince, Haiti 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 9:38pm]
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