Man claims to have survived three weeks in rubble

Pakistan’s top army spokesman today claimed that a 26-year-old man has been pulled alive from the rubble of his quake-ruined home in northern Pakistan more than three weeks after South Asia’s massive earthquake, but a doctor treating the man said he doubted such a tale could be possible.

Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan said the man, Saeed-ur Rehman, was rescued by army troops yesterday – 23 days after the October 8 quake – from beneath his shattered home in the isolated Alai Valley in North West Frontier Province.

“An old man who was digging heard someone shouting from under the rubble and he informed the army,” Sultan told The Associated Press. “The soldiers went and dug out the man.”

Rehman was brought to the Ayub Medical Complex Hospital in Abottabad, the main town in the region, suffering from severe dehydration and minor cuts and bruises, according to Dr Iftikhar Ahmed, deputy medical superintendent at the facility.

Ahmed said the man’s family members told him the same story about Rehman’s rescue by army troops, but he cast doubt on its accuracy.

“You can live without water for a maximum of 10 days. It doesn’t seem to be possible that he lived for so many days and we have no evidence of how he would have got food or water under the rubble,” he told AP.

Ahmed said a person deprived of water as long as Rehman would have suffered vital organ failure, including kidney failure, but Rehman’s kidney appeared to be in reasonable shape. He said Rehman could not speak and did not respond to questions.

Pakistan’s state television reported the rescue and showed footage of a man it said was Rehman at the hospital. The bearded man did not appear to have suffered serious external injuries.

There have been no rescues since the first week after the 7.6 magnitude quake, which is believed to have killed about 80,000 people.

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