ISLAMABAD, Oct 11 (AFP) - After 60 hours buried in the twisted wreckage of an 10-storey apartment complex, an Iraqi woman and her two-year-old son were pulled out alive to cheers from her British and Pakistani rescuers.
The woman's feeble cries lead rescuers to an air pocket where she was found late Monday cradling her son in the wreckage of the Islamabad building which was brought down by Saturday's 7.6 magnitude quake.
Emotions ran high as Pakistani soldiers and a British rescue team using sniffer dogs finally dug the pair out of the Margalla Towers complex around two hours later.
John Holland, head of the 24-member Rapid UK British rescue team, said he first made contact with the woman soon after he arrived at the site Sunday but then lost touch with her again.
They tried again all of Sunday evening and throughout Monday before the breakthrough.
"I was elated. I personally felt all along that she was alive," he told AFP.
"We have recovered an Iraqi woman and her two-year-old son alive from the debris of the building. It's miraculous," junior interior minister Shehzad Waseem told AFP.
"They could hear the woman's voice. It was very quiet and weak but she was speaking in Arabic so they couldn't understand. But they widened the hole and pulled," said Mushtaq Ahmed, a policeman at the scene.
The boy had no physical injuries but was being kept under observation in an intensive care unit at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, said doctor Azkar Beg.
A friend who visited the hospital Tuesday said the youngster was bruised and scratched all over but was sleeping peacefully some 12 hours after he was rescued.
The boy's survival was bittersweet for the mother, who was distraught after hearing that her husband had died, Beg said. The woman, 32, was being operated on for a broken leg, he said.
Another 40 to 50 people were still trapped beneath the mammoth pile of smashed concrete and twisted metal although some of those are believed to have died, Waseem and police officials said.
Five people have now been brought out alive from the destroyed building, an upscale development where many foreign workers lived, and 30 people are confirmed dead.
Waseem said rescue teams had begun to get discouraged because they were only finding bodies but their latest success had given them a major boost.
They had gone around 24 hours without finding anyone alive after dragging out a male survivor from the building late Sunday.
"We were very depressed by the evening that there may not be any survivors but this remarkable achievement has given us new hope. At no stage did the British or the Pakistani rescuers lose hope but this has spurred them," he said.
Sniffer dogs had led aid teams to near where the Iraqi woman and child were, "and then they could hear their voice," he said.
"They could see through a hole that the son was lying in the mother's lap in a tiny space and that she was semi-crouched," he added.
"Then came the most arduous job because they had to be careful not to dislodge any of the concrete slabs and make them fall on the survivors.
"It took them two hours to free them and around midnight we managed to recover them... They were traumatized. They have been there for more than 60 hours."
"We immediately put them on stretchers and rushed them to the ambulance."