British firefighters pull two-year-old girl from collapsed school in Port-au-Prince

Relief and joy amid the devastation of Haiti earthquake as rescuers continue to find survivors

Day four of Haiti's disaster brought further harrowing scenes of devastation, but there were also flashes of joy as survivors were extracted from the rubble.

A two-year-old girl was rescued from a collapsed school in Port-au-Prince by British firefighters, the Department for International Development said last night. The child had been trapped under rubble for three days. Mike Thomas, chief officer of the fire and rescue team, said: "This is a real boost to us all. This is what we do the job for."

The girl was later named as Mia by the Greater Manchester fire and rescue service, whose firefighters were involved with the rescue. Pete Stevenson, ­operations commander, said: "We are all over the moon, Mia is beautiful and the rescue was a huge success."

French and Spanish rescue workers freed Sarla Chand after she spent 50 hours trapped beneath the wreckage of the Montana hotel. "Thank you all for saving my life," said the 65-year-old.

Shaken but smiling, the India-born New Jersey resident munched on a biscuit as medics checked to see if she had more serious injuries besides cuts and bruises. Asked how bad her ordeal was she replied: "It was very bad."

Chand, a medical doctor and vice-president of the Maryland-based IMA World Health's international programmes, was in a meeting when the magnitude 7 quake struck on Tuesday. The hotel was flattened. Chand was among 14 people pulled out alive yesterday but dozens were feared dead beneath the rubble. "We estimate 70 more inside. This is devastating," said Rodrigo Vazquez, a Chilean army major who was directing the rescue. Another survivor from the Montana was the brother of Marla Gulley, who under the name Bella Baita tweeted anxious requests for news. "Looking for info for Hotel Montana survivors, as my brother was there Tues for a meeting and missing. Waiting and praying …"

Friends responded with messages of solidarity and then delight when Gulley gave an update: "My brother, w/minor injuries and 4 more pulled from the rubble of Hotel Montana after 55 hours, a miracle. Joy for our family."

When Eliana Nicolini, a Brazilian employee of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), felt the earthquake rattle through Port-au-Prince on Tuesday her first thought was to run. She sprinted out of the UNDP building moments before it came crashing down. Then her thoughts turned to her two sons, João Carlos and Paulo Victor, who had arrived in Haiti the previous day to visit her. According to reports in Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, Nicolini walked 15 miles back to her home in one of the city's hotels to look for them. When she arrived night had fallen and the hotel had been transformed into a tangle of concrete and metal.

"I started to cry and to pray and ask God to save my children," she said.

Finally, after hours scouring the wreckage with a small torch for any sign of her children, her prayers were answered. When the earthquake hit, her sons had jumped from a window and were safe. "I chose this mission and I will carry on here," she said. "The important thing is that my kids are well."

Haryssa Keem Clerge was not so lucky. The nine-year-old could be heard begging for help from the basement of her destroyed cinderblock home. Neighbours braved aftershocks to claw through debris with bare hands. They were able to pass her water but by the time they pulled her out it was too late. Her lifeless body was wrapped in a green bathtowel, placed inside a loose desk drawer and, with nowhere to take it, left on the bonnet of a battered Isuzu Trooper.

"There are no police, no anybody," the child's godmother, Kettely Clerge, told AP. Neighbours had to hold her back as she walked toward the building's winding, partially collapsed stairway, wailing: "I want to see her!"


Rory Carroll and Tom Phillips

The GuardianTramp

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