Japan: Alive after 10 days in the rubble

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The Independent Online

The voice rang out suddenly, unexpectedly, from the wreckage left behind by the earthquake and tsunami that ripped through north-eastern Japan 10 days ago. "Please help. Please help."

There, on the roof of his collapsed wooden home, stood Jin Abe, above, so cold that he had draped layers of towels around his body. His grandmother, Sumi Abe, was trapped inside, the 16-year-old told the team of Ishinomaki police officers who had been patrolling the city yesterday.

The pair had been stuck there since the earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on 11 March, triggering a massive tsunami that obliterated much of the north-eastern coast. The 80-year-old woman's weak legs kept her from walking, and the teenager had been unable until yesterday to crawl out of the wreckage. The grandmother and her grandson were weak but conscious, having survived on the food they had in their refrigerator, he said.

The national broadcaster NHK aired dramatic video of the rescue, which showed a stunned, though coherent, woman. "Are you hurt?" a rescuer said. "No," she replied, and asked about her grandson. Both were taken to a nearby hospital.