A survivor’s miracle in the rubble

The field hospital where Eleonora Calesini was treated after her rescue.
The father of a 20-year-old student, one of the last to be pulled alive from the rubble says it could only have been a miracle that saved his daughter.

Luigi Calesini says when he arrived at his daughter Eleonora’s university dorm most of the building had already collapsed on itself. He says he thought it was a lost cause because his daughter lived on the ground floor. “We waited and waited, and they were only pulling out dead bodies. Then we heard they pulled a woman out so we ran to see and it was Eleonora. We spoke to her and she recognized us but then they took her to the field hospital” said Calesini from the hospital where his daughter is now being treated. “She was conscious, but then they took her away from me and now I’m afraid they won’t give her back to me,” he added. Eleonora is said to be in a serious but stable condition and the hospital is being very guarded about her prognosis. “The first thing she asked was what time it was and then she asked for some food” said Luciano Roncalli, a rescue team leader who helped pull Eleonora out from hundreds of tons of rubble and debris Wednesday.

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“Our task is to save lives and that means everything to us” says Roncalli. For days now though there has been precious little good news from rescue sites. As many as a dozen people could still be missing and Italian authorities say they will continue to work at it until at least Sunday. Even now, rescuers say they are finding what could be signs of life on some sites and continue to dig by hand to remove rubble. In some ways this tragedy will be most remembered for the desperate vigil kept by parents after two university dorms collapsed. Tensions were high on rescue sites for several days as parents lived the agony of seeing the collapsed buildings teeter and rescue teams hampered by strong aftershocks.

And many witnessing the destruction question why modern buildings should have collapsed at all. “It doesn’t help to fester about why this happened, I don’t know if the building was built properly,” says Calesini adding, “what I do know is that this is a miracle and I want it to stay that way.”