PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — She is amazing her doctors, the 16-year-old choir girl who came close to dying but wouldn't in the crumbled concrete graveyard of Port-au-Prince.
More than two weeks after the earthquake brought down her school — and a day after she was lifted from the ruins — Darlene Etienne was eating yogurt, talking and regaining her strength Thursday.
"We are very surprised at the fact that she is still alive," said Dr. Evelyne Lambert, who is caring for her on a French hospital ship offshore.
One who didn't seem surprised was the girl's mother, a poor rice-and-vegetable peddler.
"I never thought she was dead," Kerline Dorcant, 39, said. "I always thought she was alive."
"It's God" hearing a mother's nonstop prayers, she said.
The astonishing rescue of the high school student, by a French search team that refused to go home when others did, offered a moment of joy in this grieving city, where uncounted thousands were entombed in a landscape of broken and heaped-up concrete, wood and metal.
They're among an estimated 200,000 quake dead in Haiti, including 150,000 who Haitian officials say have been buried anonymously in mass graves.
The U.S. Army's bulldozers were digging into that rubble Thursday, knocking down shaky walls and beginning to clear away ruins in Port-au-Prince, where perhaps 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed or damaged in the Jan. 12 quake.
Among tens of thousands of survivors, desperation has grown daily as a huge global relief effort has run into bottlenecks in air, sea and road transport, with looting and other security problems disrupting mass food handouts. Coordination remained a problem, leaving big gaps in food distribution.
Darlene Etienne was pulled from the rubble of her cousin's off-campus house Wednesday near the ruins of the St. Gerard school. She was rushed to a French field hospital and then to the hospital ship Siroco.
"At the very beginning, she was in very poor condition, but now she has been stabilized," Lambert said, adding that Darlene was drinking water and had eaten yogurt and mashed vegetables. She estimated her chance of survival at 90 percent.
On the nightmarish streets of Port-au-Prince, the French rescuers were out again Thursday, in their continuing, improbable search for lives to save.