Quake survivor's claims 'bogus'

2005-12-15 22:09
Cumsir Camp - Neighbours and some relatives of a woman whose family claims she was rescued alive after being buried for weeks under earthquake rubble say she was pulled from the wreckage just two days after the disaster but refused to leave her destroyed home.

The story of Naqsha Bibi has been making the rounds in Pakistan since earlier this week, and has been picked up by local media reports and some international news agencies.

Relatives and neighbours in the Cumsir Refugee camp where she lived, about 6km north of Muzaffarabad, said earlier this week that they were surprised by the hullabaloo.

Bibi's cousin, Sharif ud Din, and other neighbours said the woman was pulled from her home two days after the October 8, 7.6-magnitude temblor. She had been offered food daily by her neighbours, though she often refused to eat it. Finally, they asked a medical team to take her to a hospital, she said on Tuesday.

Doctor supports woman's story

Bibi, believed to be about 40 years old, was taken to the field hospital in nearby Muzaffarabad, looking extremely gaunt. Immediate family members told doctors she had been trapped under the rubble for more than 60 days, living on rotten fruit that was in the room where she was trapped.

There have been nearly a dozen claims of miracle rescues since the monster earthquake, but no one has been rescued alive since about eight days after the earthquake, which killed an estimated 87 000 people, most in northern Pakistan and Pakistan's portion of Kashmir.

Doctors say it is impossible for a person to survive much longer than eight days without access to water.

On Thursday, Hafeezur Rahman, a doctor at a field hospital in Muzaffarabad- where the woman is being treated- said "I only evacuated and examined her and her physical condition tells me she has been trapped in her collapsed house for two months".

He said 80% of the woman's muscles were unusable due to malnutrition.

"She is now fast recovering," Rahman said. "She has started eating and responding."

"At times, she smiles," he added.

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