When Sonia Córdoba heard her husband’s voice telling her “I’m alive,” almost two full days after Ecuador’s recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake, she must have thought she was hearing a ghost.
Pablo Córdoba was a receptionist at the El Gato Hotel in Portoviejo, Ecuador, and on Saturday, the building went from five-stories to a pile of rubble within minutes. Buried in the middle of it was Pablo.
The 51-year-old told the Wall Street Journal that he tried not to panic while he was trapped for 40 hours, but he prayed, yelled and drank a bit of his own urine to survive.
Córdoba had a cell phone in his pocket, but service in the city was down at first. As soon as he got service, with barely enough battery life, he dialed his wife.
Ecuadorean rescue teams hurried to the site. They used rescue dogs and a machine that detects vibrations to find Córdoba.
Three hours later, an elite search unit of Colombian firefighters helped lift Córdoba out of the wreckage.
“We had tears in our eyes,” Jackson Lesmes, one of the 65 members of the search-and-rescue team from Bogotá, Colombia, who arrived Sunday to help following the earthquake, told WSJ.
The death toll following the quake is over 400.
Cordoba is resting comfortably in a hospital and was lucky to have survived with minor bruising.
He told WSJ, “I wasn’t afraid, because when I was trapped I told God I committed my soul to him,” he said. “But it wasn’t my time.”