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80-year-old Japanese woman and grandson rescued from rubble

The two were trapped for nine days in the kitchen of their home in Ishinomaki, in Miyagi prefecture, but eventually Jin Abe, 16, was able to dig out and get to the roof of the house and alert rescuers.

March 20, 2011|By David Pierson, Los Angeles Times
  • Eighty-year-old Sumi Abe, center, is rescued from the wreckage of her home in Ishinomaki 9 days after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeast.
Eighty-year-old Sumi Abe, center, is rescued from the wreckage of her home… (Kahoku Shimpo, AFP/Getty…)

Reporting from Beijing — An 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson were rescued Sunday after being buried under rubble for nine days after the worst recorded earthquake in Japanese history and a massive tsunami toppled their home.

The two were trapped in their kitchen after the magnitude 9 temblor struck March 11 and survived by wrapping themselves in towels and eating yogurt and drinking, water, milk and Coke, Japanese news reports said.

Sumi Abe had been unable to free herself after her legs were wedged under the refrigerator. Eventually, her grandson, Jin Abe, dug his way out of the debris onto the roof of the home, where he was able to alert rescuers.

Photos: Unrelenting crisis grips Japan

Public broadcaster NHK showed images of a woman with glasses and curly gray hair wrapped in a blanket and surrounded by rescuers. Sumi Abe was able to say her name and to tell rescuers that she was unhurt. Jin Abe suffered hypothermia and told doctors he had almost no feeling in his left leg.

The two were found in Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, a city ravaged by the tsunami.

The miraculous discovery comes as more and more victims are being recovered. The chance of survival so long after such a two-prong disaster is considered minuscule.

The official death toll as of Sunday evening stood at 8,199, with 12,722 missing, according to police. But Japan's Kyodo News service reported that as many as 15,000 people may have been killed in Miyagi prefecture alone, according to the local police chief.

david.pierson@latimes.com

Times staff writer Alexandra Zavis in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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