Toddler found alive in earthquake rubble

KHILARI - A 19-month-old girl was plucked alive from beneath the rubble of her home yesterday, five days after India's worst earthquake in 50 years turned her village into a graveyard, army rescuers said.

Priyanka Wagle was found underneath her overturned cot buried in rubble more than one metre (three feet) deep, said Brigadier Pritam Singh, whose unit found the child in the village of Khilari. 'This is a miracle, for which we thank the Almighty,' Brigadier Singh said.

Priyanka was only the ninth person found alive by army rescuers following Thursday's quake, which measured 6.4 on the Richter scale and flattened hundreds of homes across more than 70 villages in western India. Up to 22,000 people died and 150,000 have been made homeless. Most of those saved were pulled out by relatives or civilian volunteers soon after stone walls crushed families as they slept .

The baby was discovered when her father, Venkat Wagle, returned to Khilari to arrange her cremation, assuming she had died. She was unearthed by Lieutenant Suneet Baxi alongside several other family members who had died. As she was pulled out she asked for water and her mother, Brigadier Singh said. She was given milk and fruit juice and was taken to the hospital where her mother is recovering.

'She's a national treasure. We have to save her,' said Brigadier Singh. The army began bulldozing the rubble on Sunday after giving up hope of finding more survivors.

India's Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, promised yesterday to meet the cost of rebuilding razed villages and help those made homeless to start a new life.

''There's never been such a huge earthquake in the region in our living memory,' he told reporters. 'I hope to God the death-toll is not what is being reported by newspapers.' Some local newspapers had put the toll as high as 44,000. But government officials say the figure is likely to be less than earlier feared, probably up to 22,000.

International aid began to pour in yesterday for the victims. After visiting two of the devastated villages, Khilari and Sastur, Mr Rao announced he would accept World Bank aid for a rebuilding programme. 'I am hopeful a new life will begin for them,' he said.

'Construction costs of the villages will be fully met,' the Prime Minister added. He said the government would also launch a complete seismological mapping of the area to discover hidden fault-lines. Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister of Maharashtra state, said the cost of rebuilding 52 villages wholly or partially demolished was estimated at 3.50bn rupees ( pounds 76m).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral