A young man emerged Wednesday as a miraculous survivor of a massive mudslide in a southern China manufacturing city after rescuers pulled him out from underneath a door that saved his life.
Squeezed into a narrow space under piles of debris for 67 hours, the 21-year-old man was assisted by the door that trapped his foot but gave him room to survive.
In a feeble voice, migrant worker Tian Zeming told rescuers his name and that another person was buried near him, according to authorities. But medical and rescue staff who went down into the rubble found the second person had not survived.
More than 70 people were still missing after the mountain of construction waste material and mud collapsed Sunday and flowed into an industrial park in Shenzhen. The city near Hong Kong makes products ranging from cellphones to cars that are sold around the world and attracts workers from all parts of China.
Zhang Hu, a city vice mayor, said in a news conference that four bodies had been found. He said that even though the critical 72-hour period to find survivors had passed, they were continuing rescue efforts with a team of 5,000.
"As long as there is a sliver of hope, we will never give up," Zhang said.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that Tian underwent surgery on his broken hand and foot, which had been wedged against a door panel. He reportedly had been trying to get out of his room when the building collapsed, and the door panel created a space for him to survive.
Hospital boss Wang Guangming said Tian was in stable condition, but extremely weak, dehydrated and with several soft tissue injuries and multiple fractures, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Xinhua reported that rescuers had located Tian underground at 3:30 a.m. and pulled him out of a collapsed factory building three hours later. Firefighters had to squeeze into the room and remove most of the debris by hand to get to Tian, who is from Chongqing city in southwestern China.
Residents have raised questions about why officials didn't act to stop the growing mountain of construction waste, which they said they had feared was dangerous.
The Ministry of Land and Resources has said the steep mountain of dirt, cement chunks and other waste had been piling up for two years.
Heavy rains made the soil heavy and unstable, causing the pile to collapse with massive force.
Video shows victim being pulled out from rubble. Identified as 19 year-old Tian Zeming from Chongqing https://t.co/QKtJylZPtT— CCTVNEWS (@cctvnews) December 22, 2015
State media reported that the New Guangming District government had identified problems with the mountain of soil months earlier.
The Legal Evening News said a district government report in January found that the dump had received 1 million cubic meters of waste and warned of a "catastrophe."
One survivor, Zhou Suqing, 48, told the South China Morning Post that she narrowly escaped the tide of mud but her husband, Hu Wenhua, 49, was buried alive.
“Dozens of people were trying to run away from the mud, some were lucky enough to be pushed out by the impact of the landslide, but others were buried under the mud,” she said. “I wanted to communicate the information about where these people were probably buried to the rescue teams, but I had no chance to speak to them.”
Relatives of those missing have criticized the government forces that have come in and occupied the area following the mudslide.
“Nobody has told us where we can stay, or where to get information and from whom,” one relative told the South China Morning Post.
One of the newspaper’s reporters found that all roads leading to the site have been blocked off by police. Some relatives still at the site say they don’t plan to leave because they are afraid of not being allowed to return.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.