How teen survived 5 days trapped in Nepal rubble

Apr 30, 2015 12:49 PM by CBS News

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Pemba Tamang survived five days trapped under a pile of rubble that in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

In an increasingly rare story of survival, Tamang was pulled out of the crushed concrete and twisted steel Thursday morning -- five days after the disaster -- prompting applause from dozens of rescue workers standing on and around the heap of debris.

CBS News' Alicia Alford caught up with the 15-year-old survivor at a field hospital in Kathmandu run by the Israel Defense Forces.

Remarkably, Tamang was virtually uninjured; a few scrapes but not even a broken bone. Rescuers said he found a pocket inside the rubble heap.

Alford found him sitting up in a wheelchair, drinking water and eating Oreo cookies. During his time trapped under the ruins, Tamang said he survived on ghee, a form of clarified butter used widely in cooking in the region. Doctors at the field hospital say he also found some limited source of water.

To get the attention of the rescuers, Tamang said he threw rocks at a piece of metal amid the debris.

He described a surreal feeling during the ordeal, saying he sometimes felt alive, and other times as if "god has cursed me so that I was no longer living."

Safe at the field hospital, he was lost for words.

"I cannot explain how I am feeling. I'm not on the land, I'm up in the air," he told CBS News through a translator.

The first doctor to see Tamang told Alford that, upon hearing a survivor was coming, he had expected to see someone unconscious, possibly barely alive.

When the teenager appeared in relatively good condition, it surprised everyone. A spokeswoman for the IDF field hospital dubbed him a miracle.

"It was wonderful to see him functioning, to see him speaking," said IDF mission spokeswoman Libby Weiss. She said the young man was remarkably stable given what he'd been through, and was only treated for scrapes and dehydration.

"He's eating, drinking, walking around, so he's doing very, very well," said Weiss. "I would say it's a miracle."

Tamang was to be kept at the facility for at least a couple more days, but Alford said if his high spirits are anything to go by, he shouldn't need much more in the way of medical attention.


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