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Missing student found trapped between dorm, garage

Posted at 12:58 PM, Nov 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-04 13:03:14-05

(CNN) — A New York University student is in fair condition after being rescued Sunday evening from a narrow shaft between two buildings in lower Manhattan, Evelyn Hernandez, a spokeswoman for Bellevue Hospital Center, told CNN.

Sophomore Asher Vongatu, 19, spent nearly two days trapped in a tight space between an NYU residence hall at 80 Lafayette St. and a garage, a Fire Department of New York spokesman said.

A public safety sergeant discovered the student wedged into the space when he heard moaning, John Beckman, a university spokesman, told CNN.

The FDNY quickly responded to an emergency call at 5:07 p.m. Sunday.

It took almost 90 minutes to free the student, a Fire Department spokesman said. Firefighters used pneumatic tools to break through three layers of cinder block.

“Our understanding is that the student was conscious and able to communicate with rescuers throughout the rescue,” Beckman said.

University officials first received word of a missing student early Sunday. Later that day, some of his possessions were found at Lafayette Hall, a dormitory.

It is unclear how the student got stuck in the space.

“We are very glad to say that at least that student was found safe, and mostly sound, and was rescued,” Beckman said.

He is being treated at Bellevue Hospital Center.

The student’s father, Lulufa Vongatu, says his son is studying political science at NYU. He grew up in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. with his mother in 2007. His mother, Habiba Vongatu, traveled from Pittsburgh on Sunday night after news of her son’s accident. His father is in Nigeria and trying to make arrangements to get to New York.

CNN’s Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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