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A miracle in Bam

An 80-year-old woman was found alive in Bam,  Iran,  on Wednesday, five days after the devastating earthquake.
Frail and writhing in pain but not seriously injured, 80-year-old Moudjra Ozargan subsisted under the rubble without food or water.
Frail and writhing in pain but not seriously injured, 80-year-old Moudjra Ozargan subsisted under the rubble without food or water. Nightly News
/ Source: NBC News

An 80-year-old woman was found alive here on Wednesday, more than five days after being pinned down in her home by a shattering earthquake.

Frail and covered in a paisley-patterned black gown, Moudjra Ozargan writhed in pain when doctors moved her from an ambulance to a makeshift emergency room in a white tent outside Bam's wrecked central hospital.

Ozargan complained of chest pain, which doctors attributed to deep bruising on her shoulder. Otherwise, she was in remarkable condition.

Dr. Francois-Regis de Salve said he and other French doctors caring for Ozargan were “a little bit amazed.”

"Her vital signs are, well, good," de Salve said, noting that Ozargan probably survived near freezing temperatures and without food or water. French doctors said they did not know the exact circumstances of Ozargan’s ordeal, but Iranian doctors who initially treated her speculated that she was trapped in a cellar, because she was not covered with dust.

Search for woman’s family
Ozargan, her rutted face weathered by the desert sun, is blind in one eye and has a cataract in the other. Lying on her side on a cot and wrapped in two wool blankets, she called out for her family.

“You have left me alone,” she said.

Doctors fear that her family may have perished in last Friday's earthquake. In the next few days, Ozargan will be transferred to an Iranian facility, and the Iranian Red Crescent is expected to help locate surviving relatives.

An Iranian army official told reporters Wednesday that rescuers also recovered a family of four on the verge of death in their home in a suburb of Bam. An Iranian state television presenter called the survival of residents five days after the earthquake the “miracle of Bam.”

Wednesday night, Moudjra Ozargan was not alone in the women’s ward of the temporary French clinic.

On a cot across a bright yellow tent, Zaro Hoseinzadeh told a visitor that she lost five members of her family last week, when the dawn earthquake rumbled through this ancient Iranian city, killing as many as 50,000 people.

But on Wednesday, the Hoseinzadehs welcomed a new family member — a baby boy, born in the French ward.

“He doesn’t have a name yet,” his mother said. “I’m waiting to consult with his father.”