CHINA EARTHQUAKE: 2 rescued after 8 days

Chengdu, May 20:

• Toll tops 40,000

• 30 nuclear facilities buried

A woman who survived on rainwater and a man fed sweetened water were today pulled out of the rubble eight days after China’s earthquake but hopes faded for others as the death toll topped 40,000.

The woman survived for nearly 200 hours by drinking the rainwater, while the man, Ma Yuanjiang, was fed through a straw that rescuers inserted through the debris, state media said.

With flags at half-mast on the second day of official mourning, tens of thousands of jittery residents in the major city of Chengdu ran for cover after authorities warned that more strong aftershocks could shake southwestern China.

Beijing also put out another urgent appeal for tents as foreign medical teams began to arrive on the scene to help care for the nearly 250,000 people injured in last Monday’s earthquake, which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale.

Rescue workers today saved Ma Yuanjiang after a 30-hour dig that included chiselling through

10 slabs of cement, Xinhua news agency said.

The team fed the 31-year-old sugary water through a straw as they broke through the rubble of a power plant where he was an executive, Xinhua said.

Ma was surprisingly able to speak, eat and drink small amounts as he was rushed to hospital but his left forearm had to be amputated, it said.

Xinhua, quoting Hong Kong-based Phoenix television, said that a woman was pulled out of the rubble after 190 hours during which she drank rainwater.

The government said today that the death toll from the earthquake had risen to 40,075. A cabinet spokesman said hours earlier the number of dead and missing was nearly 66,000.

Across southwestern China, tens of thousands of residents ran for safety early today over fears of another earthquake, carrying bedding, chairs, clothes and other possessions. China has said it would accept foreign medical teams as relief efforts shifted from searching for survivors to caring for the injured and homeless.

Medical teams from Russia and Taiwan Red Cross have reached the disaster area while those from Japan, Germany and Italy are to reach there soon. Other countries and groups have also offered to send medical teams.

A news report today said more than 30 sources of radiation were buried by debris from the quake, but all except two have been disposed of and the overall situation was safe. There were no specifics in the Xinhua report, other than saying that “nuclear facilities and radioactive sources for civilian purposes” had been buried.