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Miracle in Philippines: Quake Survivors Found

July 27, 1990|From United Press International

BAGUIO, Philippines — Rescuers plucked a woman and a man from the rubble of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in this resort city today in a miraculous rescue 11 days after an earthquake that killed more than 1,600 people.

Relatives who had been encamped outside the hotel in Baguio, 120 miles north of Manila, reportedly burst into applause and wept as the survivors were pulled out.

"Mother, father, I am safe," cried Arnel Calabia, 27, a security guard, in a radio interview from a hospital where he and Luisa Mallorca, 21, a casino employee, were taken.

The two said they survived under the rubble by drinking rainwater and their urine and by talking to each other.

Officials said rescue workers tunneling through concrete slabs and twisted steel heard Calabia scream, "Help! Help!" and pulled them out from the third floor of the hotel about 9 p.m.

The hotel was one of 28 buildings in Baguio, 120 miles north of Manila, that crumbled in the 7.7 quake on July 16.

The military Office of Civil Defense said the quake killed 1,609 people, left 1,037 missing and presumed dead and injured more than 3,000.

The rescue came five days after foreign experts from Japan, Britain and Singapore gave up hope of finding survivors and left the devastation caused by the worst quake to hit the Philippines since August, 1976, when a temblor and tidal wave killed more than 3,000 people.

Doctors at the Baguio General Hospital pronounced Calabia and Mallorca in stable condition and said they were resting in their rooms.

Dr. Samuel Aleta said the survivors were pale, hungry and had minor bruises but were otherwise in good health.

Government spokesman Horacio Paredes said Mallorca and Calabia told hospital authorities they never lost hope in the 11 days they were trapped.

"They said they survived by drinking their urine. The workers found a cup near them which they apparently used," Paredes said.

"At times, they said they drank rainwater seeping through the ruins. They said they spent the days talking to each other and praying. They never gave up hope," Paredes said.

Calabia told radio station DZMM he was sitting in the administration office when the temblor struck at 4:26 p.m.

He said Mallorca yelled, " 'We should jump out.' Somebody said, 'No, don't jump. Let's stay here.' "

"We hid under the table. Then we did not know what happened next. It was dark. I talked and Ging Ging (Mallorca's nickname) talked," Calabia said.

He said throughout his ordeal he was in a sitting position; three fingers on his right hand were severely injured.

Calabia said three other companions were killed instantly and a fourth died on the fourth day.

Officials said 18 bodies were retrieved from the hotel. About 60 hotel employees and 30 guests, including five Filipino-Americans, two Hong Kong Chinese, three Dutch and an Omani, were reported trapped and presumed dead.

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