After four days of sifting through debris that has yielded 23 bodies, rescuers at dawn yesterday made a miraculous discovery that brought cheer to the grim site.
From beneath the tonnes of twisted metal, concrete boulders and broken household items, at Ground Zero of the seven-storey building that collapsed on Friday night, baby Dealeryn Saisi Wasike aged seven months was pulled out alive at 4am.
The development was hailed a wonder that transformed the little girl into ‘a miracle baby' who shone a beam of hope, especially for relatives of 95 people still missing following the collapse of the block of flats in Huruma, Nairobi.
It had been a long time since weary rescuers, who had been painstakingly working through the rubble, last pulled out a survivor on Saturday, and signs of life as the day broke yesterday energised the teams that included officers from the National Disaster Management Unit, the military, Kenya Red Cross, National Youth Service and volunteers.
With the help of sniffer dogs that picked out signs of life, the rescuers carefully moved the debris, piece-by-piece, hoping and praying that their efforts would yield a survivor and when it finally paid off, it was in style.
When they turned over the last slab, they found the baby comfortably lying in a basin, which could have shielded her from harm, oblivious of the deaths and destruction that had been unfolding around her since disaster struck minutes after 9pm last Friday.
"She had no bruises, no mark that she was hurt and she did not even cry," said Pius Masai of the disaster management unit, who coordinated the rescue.
"She only cried when she was lifted out of the rubble," he said of the little angel who had conquered the dust, the cold dirty running water from the Nairobi River, a four-day fast and limited air from the collapsed slabs.
Put on fluids
"We immediately had the baby examined and realised she had no injury at all. She was immediately put on fluids and she responded immediately," he added, as her rescue raised the number of survivors to 136.
As news of the discovery went public, Red Cross also helped track down baby Dealeryn's traumatised father, Ralson Wasike, who could finally afford a smile although he was weighed down by the reality his wife was among the 95 missing. Wasike was later informed that his wife Eunice Bosibori was among those who had died.
It was a 6am call from his sister that woke him up with news that there was a baby that had been found alive. "My heart skipped a beat and I immediately rushed to the scene to determine the authenticity of the news," he said.
As baby Dealeryn was being rescued, her father was at his mother's place deep asleep having a premonition of his own on how his beloved daughter was still alive. "I had a dream that I was combing my girl's hair. She had this beautiful long hair," he said.
But this was strange considering she was just six months old and her hair had not grown that long: "I woke up and asked my mother what the dream meant but she just asked me to hope for the best."
Under the makeshift tent at the Huruma Social Hall, Wasike's broad smile brightened his dark complexion, glad that God had re-united him with his only daughter.
Dressed in a checked shirt Wasike said he had refused to give up on his family even when hopes dimmed as days passed. "People were even wondering if I have actually lost my loved ones. I still felt peaceful inside me," he said.
The heavy electric drilling, grinding and smashing of the heavy slabs had finally given birth to new life, increasing the hopes of many who still have their relatives stuck in the rubble.
On arrival early morning yesterday, Wasike met Kenya Red Cross Society Governor, Mohamud Said, and his anxiety grew even more as the news became a reality.
He gave a description of the baby, how old she was and was led to Kenyatta National Hospital to determine if he was the parent.
As he got into the ward, Wasike said he saw his daughter and called out 'mum.'
"She raised her hands like she wanted me to carry her. I cannot explain how much joy I felt. Crying would have not been the best way to express the emotions," he said.
She was found in the same basin that her father would remove her from every time he came home but that fateful Friday, he may have come late, but not too late to see and hear his daughter's voice once again.
"She is one hyperactive child. If you leave her on the floor, she may roll down the stairs so the basin was the safest place to have her," explained her father laughing.
By 11:39am, the baby had been declared out of danger and by 1:17pm, she was discharged and handed over to her parent.
"Her mother was always complaining that I was the one making the child too hyperactive when I would toss her up in the air and catch her. But see, this might be one of the things that made her survive," he said laughing.
Head of Operations at Red Cross Mahdi Mohamed said there was no need to ask the girl's father to produce documents to determine if he was the true father.
"Technicalities of that may be required later. For now, the reaction that we saw when the baby identified him immediately he stepped into the hospital room is enough to conclude that he is the biological father," he said.
As others lamented the slow rescue and recovery process, saying that those trapped had a very small chance of being found alive, Wasike was happy that it was being done slowly.
"If it was done quickly, maybe there would not have been any possibility of finding my daughter alive. I urge everyone else to wait patiently, let the State do its work," he said.
Masai noted that they would be forced to bring down some makeshift settlements to access the building from the other side of the river.
"This will enable us to use at least two machines. Our aim is to find people alive or their bodies intact. This is a delicate operation and we need patience," he said.
We are undertaking a survey to help us improve our content for you. This will only take 1 minute of your time, please give us your feedback by clicking HERE. All responses will be confidential.