View Full Version : Buried in Rubble

06-29-2007, 03:06 AM
Anyone ever been buried in rubble and know what it feels like? Or are most people who are recovered from collapsed buildings unconsious/dead?

Plot Device
06-29-2007, 03:19 AM
I think we pulled less than 10 people alive out of the World Trade Center. And while nearly 3,000 people died in the towers, we rarely found any WHOLE bodies after the fact. Just bits and pieces of body parts. Tiny bits. We couldn't even identify people via dental records but had to use DNA instead.

Granted, that's an extreme case because of the sheer weight of those buildings.

I suspect earthquake survivors might have a few stories to tell about this sort of thing.

06-29-2007, 03:22 AM
It's not as extreme as the world trade center, no. That would have killed my poor main characters...and everyone else on the spaceship.

06-29-2007, 03:35 AM
People have been pulled from the rubble of collapsed buildings weeks after the earthquake. But, every day that goes by, less and less of them will be alive. Things like injuries, fires, temperature, water to drink, all play a part. And unless there's a recovery effort to pull them out, well...

06-29-2007, 08:31 AM
There is a good story about the 1989 SF earthquake including info on two survivors of the Cypress Freeway collapse. Here's the link:


06-29-2007, 08:37 AM
Thanks for the link, fellow writer. I've got a good idea of what my hero's will be in now and how long it'll take. Fortunately, in the future, they have bio-sensors and industrial lasers so they can cut a hole straight through the rubble.

I love the future :D

06-30-2007, 10:01 AM
It all depends on how large a building, how it was constructed and how it collapses upon the person. Obviously there is a huge difference between a horrific collapse like the WTC and a single story wooden structure, but even in concrete buildings sometimes a person will get extremely lucky.

I remember a story out of Japan where some poor devil was in a large concrete hospital that came down in a major earthquake. He initially suffered no significant injuries but was still trapped in a small pocket along with a few others, including his wife, whom unlike him were pinned under rubble. He was in there for a week crawling around in the darkness and was the only one left alive when rescuers eventually found him by chance, and they were only digging in the rubble because they were looking for medical supplies.

Point being is that a person can survive quite a while if there is enough oxygen, they have not suffered severe injuries and they are not pinned under heavy rubble, perhaps even weeks if there happens to be a source of drinkable water such as ruptured pipes.
But a person whom is pinned under something heavy will not last nearly as long because crush injuries become more and more lethal as time passes without treatment, even when it is something non-vital like a limb, as toxins will build up in the blood from dying tissues. Also keep in mind that a person whom has lost a lot of blood will dehydrate a lot quicker than someone whom hasn't.

06-30-2007, 10:49 AM
The most extreme example of this I can think of involves a young woman who survived the collapse of a big multi-story shopping mall in Seoul, Korea, back in the 1990s. The building (name of which I don't recall) was shoddily constructed and maintained, and the owners later installed some huge and heavy air-conditioners on the roof which it was incapable of supporting, over time. One day the thing just fell down. More than 500 people died. Numerous officials and owners went to prison for a long time.

But one employee was pulled from the rubble alive something like a month after the collapse, and the demolition crews were busy digging up the rubble with big construction equipment. It was a total miracle that they heard her cries, let alone that she had survived so long. Goooooogle on it, and you'll probably get some good info.


06-30-2007, 11:13 AM
The Thredbo Landslide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Thredbo_landslide), (also here (http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/07/29/1027926853777.html),) may offer some insight, Zoombie. And anything you can find on sole survivor, Stuart Diver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Diver).

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-01-2007, 01:48 AM
Anyone ever been buried in rubble and know what it feels like? Or are most people who are recovered from collapsed buildings unconsious/dead?

What are your circumstances, what kind of construction is the building, and why did it collapse. What do you NEED to have happen, and we can work back from there.

Many deaths come from asphyxiation - the rubble is so heavy they can't breathe - or "crush injuries". Head injuries are also a common cause of death.

If you make it through the initial collapse with minor injuries, your next worry is fire in the rubble. If it doesn't roast you, it can steal your oxygen.

You need some protection from the weight of the rubble above you. Survivors are usually found in places where a big chunk landed on a slant, making a sheltered pocket, or where stronger parts of the structure didn't collapse.

If you are reasonably unwounded, in a protected pocket, air is entering, and there is no fire, you can last several days. Then it becomes a water-limited problem.