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Other miraculous survival stories motivate rescuers after Surfside condo collapse

'Nobody's giving up hope here,' Surfside mayor says on sixth day of search
rescuers and dog search rubble of Champlain Towers South condo collapse, June 29, 2021
Posted at 8:14 AM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 11:14:36-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — As the days tick away, the search for survivors in the Surfside condominium collapse becomes bleaker and bleaker.

But the more than 200 men and women involved in the around-the-clock search effort remain hopeful that they will find someone alive in the rubble of last Thursday's partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South building.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Tuesday that, among the questions posed during a meeting with family members of the 150 people still missing, search-and-rescue officials were asked, "How long can people survive under the rubble?"

Surfside mayor talks search-and-rescue efforts

"There didn't seem to be a good answer to that," Burkett said.

Although the chance of survival decreases with each passing day, miracles do happen.

After the devastating Haiti earthquake in January 2010 that killed more than 300,000 people, including 12 Lynn University students and two faculty members, a man was rescued from the rubble of a Port-au-Prince shop 14 days after the 7.0-magnitude quake struck.

Rico Dibrivell rescued 14 days after 2010 Haiti earthquake
Rico Dibrivell is carried by U.S. Army soldiers from the 82nd Airborne after being found in the rubble of a damaged building, Jan. 26, 2010, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

A Virginia man recently spoke with the NBC affiliate in Washington, recalling the time in 2001 when he spent five days trapped in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in India before being rescued.

"Don't give up on hope," he said. "Don't give up because the people who came to rescue me, they never gave up."

The most miraculous rescue came in May 2013, when a woman was pulled from the ruins of a factory building in Bangladesh, 17 days after it collapsed.

Reshma Begum pulled from rubble of 2013 building collapse in Bangladesh
Reshma Begum lies on a stretcher after being pulled out from the rubble of a building that collapsed, May 10, 2013, in Saver, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. The seamstress survived 17 days before being rescued from a collapsed garment factory building.

Burkett said he was given a copy of a news article about the Bangladesh rescue, which he shared with the families.

"Nobody's giving up hope here," he said. "Nobody's stopping. The work goes on full force. We're dedicated to get everyone out of that pile of rubble and reunite them with their families."

This story was originally published by Peter Burke on Scripps station WPTV in Palm Beach, Florida.