Last Updated: Wed Jul 18, 2012 22:41 pm (KSA) 19:41 pm (GMT)

Mariam emerges as Alexandria’s rescue heroine in building collapse disaster

Egyptians gather to inspect the site where a building collapsed in the coastal city of Alexandria. (AFP PHOTO/STR)
Egyptians gather to inspect the site where a building collapsed in the coastal city of Alexandria. (AFP PHOTO/STR)

While the collapse of three apartment buildings in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria sent shock waves across the entire country, the story of a young woman who emerged as a rescue heroine instilled hope in the hearts of victim’s folks.

Mariam al-Miniawi, 30, started rescue works Saturday when one 11-floor building collapsed over other adjacent buildings killing at least 19 people, the Anatolian Agency reported.

Mariam focused on small alleys to which ambulances had no access especially with the explosion of the main water pipe in the middle of the rubble. She helped in getting the injured out then started giving them first aid.

Mariam’s experience with rescue and first aid was basically inspired by her volunteer work in field hospitals during the Jan. 25 Revolution. Her promptness and skills made her the most famous rescue worker in the site especially that she was the only one available almost all the time.

She also earned the trust of security forces and fire fighters in charge of clearing the rubble and rescuing the injured.

According to residents of the neighborhood, where the buildings collapsed, Mariam used very basic tools like gloves, cotton, alcohol and antiseptics.

They added that she did not only rescue residents of the collapsed building, but also officers and rescue workers who fainted because of the smoke and dust caused by the collapse.

Despite her courage, Mariam admitted to having faced tough situations during her rescue work.

“The toughest moment for me was getting out the body of a dead woman embracing a 40-day-old baby girl,” she told Anatolian Agency.

“Everyone insisted on not separating the two bodies and on burying them as they were.”

Another tough moment, she added, was when she was in charge of covering up the bodies of female victims.

“I had to make sure their bodies were covered so that they would not be exposed when rescuers get them out of the rubble.”

When asked about how police officers in the site treated her, Mariam said they were very helpful.

“They appreciated what I was doing and did their best to cooperate with me.”

For Mariam, this incident might not be the last especially in the area were those buildings collapsed.

“I noticed cracks in the neighboring buildings. Officials need to take fast steps to make sure the tragedy does not happen again here,” she concluded.

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