Friday , June 21 2024

Woman trapped in gap between two houses in HCMC while trying to save cat

HCMC firefighters have saved a woman who was stuck 20 m deep in a gap of 30 cm between two houses as she tried to save her cat down there.

On Friday morning Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, 32, of District 10, who had lost her cat for a week, heard her neighbor say the animal was trapped in the gap between the two houses, that is walled off at both ends.

As it was dark when looking into the gap, even in the morning, Hoa shone a light and saw her British longhair standing on a corrugated metal awning in the gap. She was on her roof 10 meters above the ground.

It kept calling out in response to her.

Worried it was starving and also as a ruse to get it out, she attached a cage to a cloth, put cat food inside and lowered it, hoping the animal would climb into it.

But the plan did not work.

She then got a rope, tied it to a railing and the other end around her midriff, put on a helmet and swung down into the gap.

Halfway down, the rope broke and she slid down, her body scraping on the walls on either side.

“The rough cement surface of the walls was abrasive and it was very painful,” she said later.

“If I had not worn a helmet, my head might have hit the wall and I could have died.”

Stuck in the narrow claustrophobic space, she panicked and shouted for help, but no one heard her.

After a few minutes she gathered herself, took her phone out of the pocket and dialed 114, the search and rescue and firefighting hotline.

She explained her situation and location to the operator.

Five minutes later Captain Phan Cong Hanh, 37, of the District 10 firefighting police was informed. He was on duty at a fire station that is just 500 m away from Hoa’s place.

Hanh took a team of 10 men and quickly reached her house.

From the roof they could barely see without shining a light. But they decided that if Hoa remained calm, they could drop a rope and pull her up, failing which one of them had to climb down and fetch her.

But in that narrow space, where some parts were only 20 cm wide, the second option would have been very difficult.

Using a drill to get through the wall from one side could affect the structure of the house and also take longer, during which time Hoa could lose enough blood to endanger her life.

So, after confirming she was still completely conscious, the rescuers decided to break a window frame on the third floor in her house, pump oxygen into the gap and keep talking to her to keep her calm.

Then they sent down protective gear for her to put on to avoid any further injuries when pulling her up.

Then they sent down a harness for Hoa to attach around her legs and shoulders.

After nearly half an hour Hoa was pulled to the top. She was conscious though very weak.

Cảnh sát cứu người phụ nữ kẹt ở khe tường

Police pull Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa out of a gap between two walls in HCMC, June 16, 2023. Video by HCMC police

They rushed her to a nearby hospital for emergency aid.

“Her blood was all over my pants and shoes by the time we reached the hospital, but she kept asking about the cat,” Hanh says.

Instances of saving someone stuck in a narrow gap like Hoa are rare, he says.

She survived because she had worn a helmet and escaped without head injuries, he adds.

Hoa has 20 stitches on her knees and abrasions all over her body.

As for the cat, it is reported to have gotten out safely.

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