Rescuers pulled at least 63 people alive from the earthquake debris in southwest China's Sichuan Province on Saturday, when searches entered the fifth day--tens of hours after the generally-believed 72-hour "prime time" for rescue ended.
More than 4,000 troops dispatched by the Jinan Military Area Command saved 56 survivors in Yingxiu Township in Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Monday afternoon.
None of the survivors were identified, and Xinhua reporters saw most of the PLA (People's Liberation Army) soldiers have their hands stained with blood and earth after days of searches in the debris.
The strong earthquake struck Wenchuan, about 159 km northwest of Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu, at 2:28 p.m. on Monday.
The Information Office of the State Council put the quake death toll at 28,881 nationwide as of 2 p.m. Saturday. In Sichuan alone, more than 28,300 died, and at least 10,600 people remain buried, said Sichuan Province Vice Governor Li Chengyun.
Also in Yingxiu on Saturday, fire-fighters from Shanghai extricated Jiang Yuhang, a highway administration employee, at about 5:12 p.m. after he had been trapped more than 120 hours in the rubble of his home.
The 20-year-old was on night shift and was sleeping when the earthquake struck on Monday afternoon.
Rescuers heard his voice at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, and spent more than nine hours removing piles of debris.
"I was expecting to see my son's body, I never expected to see him alive," said Jiang's mother Long Jinyu, who arrived in Yingxiu about 2:00 p.m. on Saturday from neighboring Guizhou Province.
Another six people were saved alive also about 120 hours after the devastating quake in other areas, including Beichuan county, Shifang city and Dujiangyan city.
Among them, a 31-year-old woman named Bian Gangfen was rescued around 6:18 p.m. on Saturday in Yinghua Township, Shifang City, after spending about 124 hours under the rubble of a chemical factory.
A group of fire-fighters from central China's Henan Province discovered Bian on Friday night. They used life detection equipment to check on her every few hours during the rescue.
Bian was conscious when they carried her out and said "Thank you" to the people around her. Doctors said she had suffered back injuries and took her to a local hospital.
Separately, a 61-year-old woman was saved alive Saturday evening by Russian rescuers after being buried for up to 127 hours in the rubble.
The unidentified woman was in good condition with a sober mind while being pulled from a collapsed residential building at about 9:16 p.m. in Dujiangyan, a city southeast of the epicenter.
"Her hands and feet can still move, and she can still speak," said Li Wenxin, a counselor from the Foreign Ministry who accompanied the Russian rescuers.
Also in Dujiangyan, Zhang Xiaoping, 46, was pulled from a collapsed residential building at about 11:06 p.m., after being buried for almost 129 hours in the rubble. But he was immediately sent to hospital to have his legs amputated.
"He is still in danger," rescuers said.
No specific figure was available about the total number of survivors saved in the whole of quake-hit areas in Sichuan on Saturday.
Now, into the sixth day since the earthquake, China's worst in more than 30 years, rescue forces, including more than 130,000 troops and rescuers from Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and Singapore, were still struggling to pull possible survivors from debris of collapsed houses, schools and factories, hoping to find more life miracles.
While visiting Wenchuan on Saturday, Chinese President Hu Jintao urged rescue teams to reach remote villages that were battered by the strong earthquake as soon as possible.
He said professional rescue teams and life detection equipment should be immediately sent to where people were buried.
The situation in many villages were still unclear and he urged rescue teams to reach them on foot if necessary to rescue the injured and help in the relief effort.
(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2008)