By Mark Ellis
A 4-month-old baby was rescued from Nepal’s earthquake disaster – 22 hours after the temblor struck, the newspaper Kathmandu Today reported. Soldiers searched the wreckage of the infant’s collapsed home Saturday night, but were unable to reach him and eventually left the site around midnight, thinking he was dead.
Baby Sonit Awal’s 9-year-old sister was watching him when the gigantic quake struck just before noon on Saturday. The 7.8 temblor collapsed many historic buildings in their town of Bhaktapur, just east of Nepal’s capital.
The baby’s parents were both away but his sister managed to escape unhurt. When rescuers first heard baby Sonit’s cries, the little one was trapped under a wooden beam.
The beam appeared to be supporting everything above it, according to eye-witnesses. To move it would have posed a considerable danger to the trapped infant.
A photographer on the scene, Amul Thapa, heard the baby cry and lifted up a silent prayer, “Please God, help him.”
Although the baby was silent for a while, the boy’s father, Shyam Awal, heard the baby cry after soldiers left that night and alerted the army, who returned the next morning. At 10 a.m. on Sunday, the soldiers were able to pull little Sonit from the wreckage.
When soldiers gingerly lifted him out, Baby Sonit’s plump cheeks and eyes were encrusted with a thin layer of concrete dust. One tiny fist curled tightly shut, the other tried to cover his face from the harsh morning light.
Photographer Thapa says, “When I saw the baby alive all my sorrow went. Everyone was clapping. It gave me energy and made me smile in spite of lots of pain hidden inside me.” He took the photos of the rescued baby that appeared first in Kathmandu Today.
Miraculously, Baby Sonit appeared to have suffered only a small cut over his brow and remains in stable condition with no further injuries.