Man found alive in rubble 13 days after Iranian earthquake

A man was pulled from the rubble of Iran's earthquake, barely conscious but still alive because he had a source of water during the 13 days he was buried, a doctor and a hospital official said yesterday.

"It's a miracle," said Dr Mahdi Shadnoush, the chief physician at the Ukrainian field hospital where the 57-year-old man, named Jalil, was being treated after searchers found him on Wednesday. "He had no access to food but only water."

Jalil quickly slipped into unconsciousness after being rescued and his prognosis was uncertain.

Dr Shadnoush was unsure about the source of Jalil's water but he said the ruins of the home where he was found were wet. The doctor said that the case was difficult to explain scientifically - but water apparently would have been the key. People rarely survive being buried under earthquake rubble for more than three days.

Jalil was conscious enough to mouth out his name to searchers who dug him out of the rubble, but he slipped into unconsciousness after just a few minutes, said Mohammad Reza Tahmasebi, who is in charge of the Ukrainian hospital. Doctors were unsure whether Jalil can survive. "We hope to save his life," Dr Shadnoush said. "A medical team is looking after him. We are constantly checking his condition. We hope to keep him alive but we cannot guarantee it."

Jalil is from the town of Narmanshir but had travelled the 37 miles to Bam for medical treatment. He spent the night at his sister's house, where he was buried after the earthquake struck the next morning, flattening much of Bam and killing more than 30,000 people. The authorities are now trying to trace his relatives.

Doctors said Jalil was a member of the Baluch ethnic group, known for tolerating harsh conditions. Searchers found him after other residents alerted them to an area where they thought a body was still buried.

¿ The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies put out an appeal yesterday for £23m to help Bam recover from the quake. The federation estimates that 75,000 people have been left homeless.

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