BAM, Iran -- A 57-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of this earthquake-shattered Iranian city, barely conscious but still alive after 13 days thanks to a nearby source of water.
"It's a miracle," Dr. Mahdi Shadnoush said yesterday of the rescue of the man, who was identified only as Jalil. "He had no access to food but only water."
It was not known how Jalil got water, but the doctor said the ruins of the home where he was found were wet.
A sense of normalcy was slowly returning to Bam as hundreds of workers cleared the main streets, banks opened, and streetlights were kept lit, even in the day, to demonstrate the improving situation since the 6.6-magnitude quake hit on Dec. 26, killing more than 30,000 people.
Searchers found Jalil late Wednesday after people alerted them to an area where they thought a body was buried. He was able to mouth his name to the rescuers before losing consciousness, said Mohammad Reza Tahmasebi, administrator of the Ukrainian field hospital where Jalil was being treated.
By yesterday evening, his condition had improved.
"He is almost conscious now," said Shadnoush, chief physician at the hospital. "From time to time, he opens his eyes and he is breathing smoother now.
"His health is subject to change. We are more hopeful now to keep him alive," Shadnoush said.
People rarely survive under earthquake rubble without food or water for more than three days. On Saturday, rescuers found a 97-year-old woman alive, buried in her home for almost nine days.
An Associated Press reporter saw Jalil, bruised and covered with white cloth on a hospital bed, with tubes connected to his mouth and nose.
Hundreds of municipal workers from around Iran labored yesterday to clear Bam's streets.
"Our job is to lessen the hardship survivors in Bam have gone through and provide them with a sort of temporary relief: beauty and tidiness," Yousef Salehi said as he swept a square in central Bam.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appealed yesterday for $42 million to help Bam recover. "The scale of the disaster is so great that emergency relief will be required for several months to come," federation president Juan Manuel Suarez del Toro said.