Rescue workers pulled two more survivors out of the rubble yesterday, six days after China's powerful earthquake, but admitted hopes of more such miracles are almost extinguished.
More than 10,000 people remain unaccounted for under the debris caused by last Monday’s 7.9-magnitude quake, which killed an estimated 50,000 people and reduced entire towns to heaps of concrete and steel.
In the latest miracle survivor story, a 53-year-old man was rescued from the rubble in the devastated town of Yingxiu yesterday afternoon after surviving for 148 hours, state media said.
Earlier yesteday, rescue workers toiled for eight hours to save Shen Peiyun, Xinhua news agency said, adding that he was in a stable condition.
Shen was helicoptered out of the town in hard-hit Wenchuan County, most of which was levelled by the quake, Xinhua said.
Rescuers earlier yesterday pulled another survivor out of the rubble in nearby Beichuan county, 139 hours after the quake.
Miraculously, the rescued man, Tang Xiong, only had slight bruises and was conscious when he was saved, Xinhua said.
Dozens of such rescues over the past few days have lifted the national mood following the disaster, but hopes for more such miracles are fading as the pace of such stories tapers off.
At least 63 people were rescued on Saturday, Xinhua said, defying experts’ warnings that survival chances greatly diminish three days after an earthquake.
Tang was the second person in his family rescued, Xinhua said, adding that his wife had been saved on Thursday.
Rescue workers acknowledged that they did not expect to find many more survivors but said they had not given up.
“Although the chances of survival for those trapped are slim, we are still searching for miracles,” Kim Yong-suk, the head of a South Korean rescue team, told Xinhua.
The South Korean rescuers, who have advanced equipment and experience in other disaster zones, have not found any survivors since starting work on Saturday.
Japanese experts, the first foreign team to make it to the earthquake zone after China let them in on Thursday, also have not found any survivors.
“Now the chance for the victims to survive is very slim, but there are precedents for finding survivors days after being trapped,” said Takashi Koizumi, head of the Japanese team. “So we won’t give up,” he said.
But not all of the rescue stories have happy endings.
A 46-year-old man died yesterday one day after he was rescued from the rubble of a residence in the devastated city of Dujiangyan.
The man, Zhang Xiaoping, was pulled out Saturday after two doctors were forced to amputate part of his leg which had been stuck under the debris, Xinhua said.
Onlookers had cheered as firefighters carried Zhang to safety. But he died in a hospital due to heart failure.