Earthquake survival tale one out of the box

April 21, 2016 7:30 am

A resident jokes around on a collapsed highway in Chacras, Ecuador. Picture / AP

Despite the grief roiling this -stricken town, Pablo Cordova has something to be thankful for: He can return the coffin his wife had obtained for his funeral.
The 51-year-old hotel administrator was one of a trickle of survivors pulled from the rubble after Ecuador’s strongest earthquake in decades flattened towns along the coast and killed more than 500 people.
Cordova’s wife had given up on ever seeing him again after the five-storey Gato de Portoviejo hotel collapsed on him, pancaked by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake. She asked his boss to buy his casket.
But Cordova held out for 36 hours beneath the rubble, drinking his own urine and praying service would be restored before his cellphone battery died. He was finally able to call his wife on Tuesday, and was pulled from the wreckage soon after by a team of rescuers from Colombia.
“They were organising the funeral, but I’ve been reborn,” Cordova said, grinning in a provincial hospital. “I will have to give that coffin back because I still have a long way to go before I die.”
Yesterday, teams from all over the world spread across the country’s Pacific coastline to look for the dozens still missing. The official death toll was 507.A

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