It was the beginning of the wet season. After a tiring descent from the
mountain, Daniel decided to spend a night at a chalet before continuing his
journey home the next morning. There were not many mountaineers at that time
because of the unfavourable weather conditions.
That night, Daniel was woken
up by a loud roar of thunder. Suddenly, it dawned on him that there was a
terrible storm outside. The sound of the howling wind echoed through an open
window. As he was about to get up to close it, his bed started trembling. He
screamed as the windows, walls and ceilings crashed around him without any
warning. Seconds later, when the chaos had subsided, he tried to sit up but
instead bashed his head against something hard. It felt like concrete. It was
then, he realised with horror that the chalet had collapsed and he was trapped!
Not long after, he heard a rumbling, gushing sound. Water! Just then,
a mixture of water and mud rushed through the gaps above his head, filling the
small space. Instinctively, he knew that he was in the midst of landslide.
Desperately, he tried to lift himself up but was unable to do so. Feeling
completely helpless, he knew that he had no choice but to wait for help. Time
seemed to pass very slowly and he was beginning to lose all his hope of ever
being rescued. He thought of his loving wife and his baby son who would be
waiting for his return.
It had been ten hours since his last meal and he was tired, hungry and
thirsty. He knew he had to keep warm. He felt a cotton cover at the end of the
bed. Stretching down, he ripped a piece of the material free. It just covered
his stomach and thighs. Next, he found a jacket he had left on the bed and
struggled into it, He felt warmer and more comfortable after that.
Meanwhile, rescue operations were underway. Eleven hours after the incident,
workers and volunteers were still clearing the rubble - pieces of shattered
concrete, furniture, bricks and timber. Firefighters crawled over the rubble and
peered into gaps, yelling, "Rescue team above - can you hear me?" initially the
only sounds were from the birds overhead and the gurgle of water beneath the
rubble. Just as they were about to give up and leave that spot, suddenly they
heard Daniel's faint voice, "Help! Help!" coming from beneath.
News of the survivor spread quickly and the recovery team worked tirelessly
to save him. After an hour, workers exposed a huge slab of concrete just above
Daniel. Through a jagged, half-metre-wide opening, they heard Daniel's voice
sounded more clearly now. The rescuers realised he was just beneath them. They
wriggled into a small chamber and began clearing more rubble. Soon they
discovered another concrete slab two metres lower. After three hours digging, a
rescuer's light lit up a crack in the lower slab.
Against the dim light, Tony, a fireman, saw a hand emerging through a crack.
"There's someone down there," he shouted. The rescue workers started digging in
that particular area immediately. They knew that they were racing against time.
Despite feeling exhausted, they continued digging. After removing two boulders,
they could hear a voice. Realising that they had to rescue the victim quickly,
the team took prompt action.
The rescuers started cutting a hole through the slab above the victim, using
a circular saw. Once that was done, the hole was now large enough for Jim, a
paramedic, to enter. Jim quickly slid into the cavity to prepare his patient
so that he could be moved to safety. He carefully placed a harness around
Daniel's waist, making sure that Daniel would not feel any discomfort. He gently
pulled Daniel until his head was just beneath the hole. Then, all the other
rescue workers above the hole slowly hoisted Daniel to the surface.
Just before he was airlifted to a nearby hospital, Daniel thanked the rescue
team for having saved his life. The doctors at the hospital were astonished to
discover that he suffered only dehydration and superficial cuts. Daniel was
hospitalised for three days. Despite the ordeal he had gone through, he had this
to say: "Mountain-climbing has always been my passion. I can't wait for my next