GUNUNG SITOLI, Indonesia – A man heard crying out for water was pulled alive Saturday from beneath the rubble of a building demolished by Indonesia's most recent earthquake, a day after rescue teams formally called off the search for survivors.
The 42-year-old man, identified only as Hendra, was carried in a stretcher to a waiting ambulance after five days trapped in the remains of his three-story shop and home.
Hundreds of onlookers watched the seven-hour rescue operation, many breaking into cheers when he was pulled out.
Hendra lived in the building in Gunung Sitoli (search), Nias Island's capital, with his wife and two children. He said he was the only one to survive. A doctor who treated him said Hendra suffered only minor scratches and dehydration.
"Thank you very much, thank you very much," he said, hugging his rescuers.
Monday's 8.7 magnitude quake killed at least 548 people, most on Nias Island (search). With few exceptions, rescue efforts in the capital proved futile, and on Friday, search teams abandoned Gunung Sitoli to focus on other towns.
Hendra was found after laborers hired by the family to look for him and his family heard him calling weakly for help and water.
"We had given up hope. Look, we had even provided coffins," Hendra's brother, Kok Ciong, told The Associated Press earlier Saturday, pointing to coffins nearby.
Rescue workers cut through the rubble and went down a hole to feed Hendra crackers and water. But they said they did not find the bodies of his wife and children.
"It was the most challenging operation we have ever taken part in," said C.W. Ong, head of the Singapore search team.
Also Saturday, aid finally reached thousands of homeless and hungry victims on remote islands still reeling from the December tsunami disaster. A ferry docked in Sinabang (search), where most of the 31,000 people have lost their homes — some 23,000 by the Dec. 26 tsunami-earthquake and the rest by Monday's quake.
The Dec. 26 earthquake-tsunami killed more than 126,000 people in Indonesia — mostly in Aceh province. At least 48,000 others died in 10 other countries on the Indian Ocean rim.