And for Evans Monsignac, who was buried alive for 27 days after the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake, it was sewage water he depended on to sustain himself.
Monsignac sipped sewage that oozed underneath the rubble of the marketplace where he was buried, a place where sanitation was lacking even before the earthquake.
“It was trickling past where I was lying. I felt it under my body,” he noted upon his rescue.
When he was rescued, he weighed just 40 kilogrammes, having shed 27 kilogrammes during his ordeal.
The 2010 earthquake which struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti claimed the lives of 230,000 people.
Local merchant, Monsignac’s ordeal began when the earthquake caused a building to collapse on his stall in Port au Prince trapping him. He was selling rice.
Everyone reckoned Monsignac had died in the earthquake including his family, but he was found alive by rescue workers, 27 days later on February 8 earning the title longest-ever earthquake survivor. He was transferred to Tampa General Hospital in Florida suffering hallucinations.
Monsignac, 27, a father of two had survived without food or drinkable water and had gotten severely malnourished, dehydrated, deeply traumatised and with festering wounds.
“I still don’t understand how I’m here. I was resigned to death. But God gave me life. The fact that I’m alive today isn’t because of me, it’s because of the grace of God. It’s a miracle, I can’t explain it,” according to the last person found alive under the debris.
Even before the earthquake struck, injuring 300,000 and rendering one million homeless, life had been a struggle for Monsignac.
“I didn’t think of anything, just death. I could smell death from others – there were a lot of people under the rubble with me but the screaming was one day only. Then it was quiet..it was dark all the time. Every time I came out of consciousness I prayed, I prayed that God would rescue me, give me life.
“I thought I was dead. I was in shock. On the second day, maybe the third day, I realised I seemed to be alive and I saw this water. I was hungry and thirsty and I tried to drink something but it was making me sick in my belly. I would take my little finger and wet my lips and swallow it, but the sicker I got as time went on,” Monsignac stated.