Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Pulled from rubble, Ecuadorean won't need coffin wife got

Published:Thursday | April 21, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Earthquake survivor Pablo Rafael Cordova Canizares cries as he rests at the Verdi Cevallos Balda hospital in Portoviejo, Ecuado, on Monday.

PORTOVIEJO (AP):

Despite the grief roiling this earthquake-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-story Gato de Portoviejo hotel collapsed on him Saturday night, pancaked by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake like the rest of downtown. 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 cell phone battery died. He was finally able to call his wife on Monday afternoon, 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 from beneath his bushy mustache in a provincial hospital. "I will have to give that coffin back because I still have a long way to go before I die."

On Tuesday, teams from all over the world fanned out across the country's Pacific coastline to look for the dozens of people still missing. Residents joined in with their bare hands, increasingly desperate as the clock for finding survivors runs down.