Selfie in the rubble. Selfie in the rubble.

Trapped in rubble, victim takes a selfie

It didn't save his life, but the light on his smartphone helped

While trapped for 17 hours under the rubble of a collapsed building in Mexico City after last week’s earthquake, one man did something that is quite unusual given the circumstances: he took a selfie.

But Martín Méndez, a locksmith who had been called to the building to fix a filing cabinet, says a rumor circulating on social media that he sent the photo to his family and that it helped rescuers locate him is false.

“They’re lying, the selfie didn’t save my life. I didn’t even have any signal on my phone,” he said.

Instead, he explained that when he took the shot rescuers already knew where he was but it took them “easily 12 or 13 hours” to free him.

So, while he was waiting, “shut away on vacation” as he joked, Martín ensured that he would always have a visual reminder and evidence of his terrifying ordeal trapped among dust and tonnes of concrete and twisted iron.

When the 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck at 1:14 pm last Tuesday, Martín tried to get out of the six-story building at Álvaro Obregón 286 in the La Roma neighborhood via a fourth-floor emergency staircase. But he tripped and two women fell on top of him, landing on his leg and fracturing it.

All three of them ended up on the floor, serendipity that, according to Martín, actually saved their lives.

“If we had been standing the roof that fell there would have killed us immediately. It was a long time suffering . . . so I don’t know how God gave us the strength to resist,” he said.

While it wasn’t the selfie that saved his life, the device he took it with did play a part in his rescue.

The light emanating from his phone enabled the rescuers to find Martín and the two women and eventually a rescuer called José made contact. But the story didn’t end there.

Defying an order to leave them because of the danger that the building could collapse further, José told them that he wouldn’t abandon them and was eventually able to free Martín and other trapped victims nearby.

“I thank José infinitely. Seriously, because of him, I am here,” Martín said from his hospital bed, crying and still clearly shaken up by his experience.

His priority now is to get back to his children and, when he can, return to work. Taking some more selfies in happier, less stressful times will no doubt also be on the agenda.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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