Nepal Earthquake Survivor Builds a New Life

Rishi Kanal spent more than 80 hours under rubble in Kathmandu after a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
5:24 | 01/06/16

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Transcript for Nepal Earthquake Survivor Builds a New Life
Test Text1 plain cc1 Test message stourry about a young man trapped under rubble for 80 hours after a terrible earthquake. Tonight how he survived the struggles he's facing now, and we're right there, cameras rolling, for the moment when his luck may have changed for the better. Here's ABC's terry Moran. Reporter: The day the Earth shook in Nepal, temples crumbled, base camp on Mt. Everest was buried, and funeral pairs burned for days as thousands lost their lives. April 25th it was one of the worst disasters of 2015. And we were there in Kathmandu witnessing this tragedy. The hand of fate, that's what it feels like, for the lucky ones. But we also witnessed something else, a kind of miracle, a rescue. More than 80 hours after the quake struck in this dramatic video shot by rescuers themselves, you see a young man pulled out of a collapsed building, rising through the rubble like Lazarus from the dead. It's just after 10:00 P.M. Here. More than 80 hours since the earthquake. And after an incredible all day effort this team has brought this young man out of this building. And he is alive. His name, rishi khanal, he's 28 years old. We saw him the next day in the hospital. Rishi, how are you? Reporter: His left leg crushed by a beam in the rubble had been amputated. He was alive but he faced such a struggle ahead, like Nepal itself. And that is usually the end of these kinds of stories. The news moves on. But not this time. We went back recently to see how rishi khanal rescued from the rubble is recovering and how his country is coping, too. Rishi walks with difficulty now. He's still getting used to his artificial leg. And when we Zito talk he recalls his ordeal and quietly the memories pour out of him. What was it like to be trapped in there for all that time? Translator: I thought that I could not survive. I thought as though I'm going to die. I cried. I wept. I remembered my family. I could not figure out if it was day or night and I thought I would starve to dealt. Reporter: But survival is only half the story. Rishi struggles now. It's a long road ahead. And you need to know this about rishi. He had plans for a better life. When the quake hit he was staying at a hotel preparing to leave Nepal for dubai and a $220 a month job as a cleaner at Kentucky fried chicken. I have fixed feelings, he tells me. I'm happy because I'm alive but I'm sad because I cannot go anywhere and work anywhere. We went back to that hotel with him. His first time. It's rubble now. It would have been his grave. Do you feel like this is the place that you came back from the dead? We H thought he was going to die. Cannot speak a word. Now he's back. He lost his leg but his life is there. Reporter: As we are there with rishi, a crowd gathers. Everyone knows rishi? You're famous. Reporter: He has become a symbol of hope for this country. This is your hotel, yeah? Reporter: By sheer luck the owner of the wrecked hotel is here, too. You were here that night, too? Reporter: He wants a picture with his most famous guest. And then this. He offers rishi a job, a desk job, when his new hotel opens. You will give him a job here? Yes. Why? Reporter: The owner tells us, I need staff to run my hotel so I will give it to him. He's a skip from the jaws of death like all of us, so we are together in this. Reporter: Others have reached out to help rishi, too. His leg paid for by the non-profit disability assistance group handicap international. Sarah been is the country director in Nepal. Rishi khanal is somebody who represents the hardship of having to suffer an injury that will lead to a disability. But also he's a symbol of how possible, you know, it is to recover. Reporter: And as we saw with him at the handicap international clinic where a big part of recovery is reaching out to others. Once he receives the necessary care and he understood that there was hope for him, he really gains -- he gained popularity also, in the center he was also helping others be more positive about their own situation. Reporter: So rishi khanal's long journey, it all just might turn out okay in the end. Across this shattered city and beyond, we saw more of the hard work of recovery, like the clean-up mission, villagers hauling sand and rock to help rebuild. Long after the world stops paying attention, people must take care of each other and move forward withone step at a time. Next, they work for

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