Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 08:30 UK

Survivor pulled from China quake


Man pulled alive from collapsed building eight days after quake

A man has been pulled from the rubble of a power plant near the epicentre of China's quake after being trapped for nearly 179 hours, state media reported.

Ma Yuanjiang, 31, an executive at the station in Yingxiu, was rescued in a 30-hour operation, Xinhua news said.

Such success stories are increasingly rare as emergency workers pull more and more dead bodies from the wreckage.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake on 12 May left over 71,000 dead, buried or missing in Sichuan province.

Aftershock panic

The government says 34,073 are known to have died, and the figure is expected to rise much higher.

Tents of residents who slept outdoors to avoid any aftershocks in Deyang on 20 May 2008

Mr Ma, who was buried on the second floor of the Wenchuan county hydro-electric plant, had been in a meeting when the earthquake struck.

Although a few "miracle" survivors are still being pulled from beneath collapsed buildings, the rescue effort has now focused on providing food, shelter and drinking water for the millions of people affected by the earthquake.

Tens of thousands of people in Sichuan province rushed from their homes on Monday after a government warning of a possible major aftershock.

People slept on the streets or drove to open ground after the warning, which was broadcast on television, triggered panic.

Roads out of Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu, were jammed as people headed for the open ground of the province's agricultural plains.

It was not clear why the warning was broadcast, and government seismologists appeared on television on Tuesday, trying to calm people's fears.

Rescue workers in Beichuan take a break on 18 May 2008

"Just because you can feel aftershocks, it doesn't mean they will hurt you," said Han Weiding, a researcher with the local seismological bureau.

It is not the first panic to hit the earthquake-weary residents of Sichuan.

The entire population of the city of Beichuan, close to the epicentre, rushed for high ground on Saturday amid fears that it could be engulfed by a river bursting its banks.

Dozens of aftershocks have rattled the area, the strongest of which had a magnitude of 6.1.

Tents plea

Chinese media said mudslides have buried 200 relief workers in the past three days.

Up to Monday 19 May:
34,073 dead
9,509 buried and 29,418 missing in Sichuan province
220,109 injured
145 aftershocks above level 4, 23 above level 5, biggest 6.1
34,000 medical staff in quake zone
181,460 tents, 220,000 quilts despatched
6bn Chinese yuan ($860m, 440m) received in donations, from China and abroad
Drinking water for 7m people restored
Source: Chinese government

Rescuers are in a final push to fan out to all affected areas after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao ordered troops on Monday to reach every single town and village in the earthquake zone within 24 hours.

All public entertainment has been cancelled and presenters on state television are wearing black. The Olympic torch relay has been suspended for three days and flags are flying at half-mast.

In addition to those dead or buried, more than 220,000 people were injured in the quake.

The foreign ministry has appealed to the international community to provide tents for the more than 4.5m people whose homes have been destroyed.

To help raise money for the long-term relief effort, the government is to sell special stamps starting next month.

Thirteen million of the stamps, featuring three interlocking hearts on a red background, will be sold, potentially raising as much as $4m (2m).

The government said $1.5bn had been donated for disaster relief.

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