Shenzhen landslide: Man found alive under eight metres of rubble survived by ‘thinking of mother and eating sunflower seeds’

Shenzhen landslide: Man found alive under eight metres of rubble survived by ‘thinking of mother and eating sunflower seeds’

Tian Zeming, who was freed after being trapped for 67 hours, was ‘fortunate to escape with his life’, officials said

He Huifeng and Zhuang Pinghui

Survivor Tian Zeming, who was rescued on Wednesday morning after being buried beneath a collapsed building for 67 hours after a deadly landslide in Shenzhen on Sunday. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Migrant worker Tian Zeming survived while buried for 67 hours under eight metres of rubble following Sunday morning’s deadly landslide in Shenzhen by thinking of his mother and eating sunflower seeds and grapefruit.

He remained conscious throughout his ordeal and defiantly kept tapping with a stone to attract the attention of rescue workers.

Tian, 21, told rescuers, after they dug a hole down to just above his head on Wednesday morning, that throughout his ordeal he had kept thinking of his mother and told himself, “I must get out”.

However, it took rescuers another three hours to dig a second hole before he was set free.

He said he had been lucky that food, including sunflower seeds and grapefruit, fell into the hole with him after a huge avalanche of mud and rubble crashed into at least 33 buildings at an industrial park in the city.

He was one of 76 people that had been reported still missing after the disaster, which has killed at least two people.

Tian, who had been partially covered by a door, said he had survived by eating the seeds and grapefruit, but had become dehydrated after being left without water, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported.

READ MORE: Shenzhen landslide: First picture of survivor pulled from rubble three days after disaster, as Chinese police detain vice-president of firm running dump site

Medical staff tend to Tian Zeming after being pulled to safety 67 hours after Sunday’s deadly landslide in Shenzhen. Photo: SCMP Pictures

He was also able to breathe fresh air thanks to cracks running through the walls of the building.

Rescuers praised Tian for remaining determined to survive and frequently tapping with a stone to send signals to rescuers searching through the rubble above.

Tian Zeming is carefully carried to a waiting ambulance after being rescued on Wednesday. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Tian had been “fortunate to escape with his life’ after the building’s walls held firm, officials said.

Doctors said he was suffering from multiple broken bones, a crushed right leg, numerous cuts and grazes to his body, plus severe dehydration.

He later underwent four hours of surgery, as doctors battled to save his severely injured leg.

Rescue workers slowly lift Tian Zeming from the hole cut into the rubble. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Wang Guangming, president of Guangming district central hospital, said Tian was now in a stable condition following the surgery.

Tian, who had started working for Dejicheng Fine Hardware Company on the industrial estate only about 10 days ago, is so far the first, perhaps only, survivor of the most deadly landslide to hit Shenzhen for decades.

He found himself buried eight metres below the surface, alongside a workmate, after the landslide, but the workmate died before rescuers found them.

He was first located buried underground by fireman using three separate life detectors at about 3.30am on Wednesday, said Zhou Qiang, the official in charge of the rescue efforts.

Workers started to carefully drill holes into the mud and debris that had buried the building.

They eventually reached the rooftop of the building after digging an eight-metre-deep hole.

“The rescuers saw a hand moving and reported this to their supervisors immediately,” Gao Cunyi, head of Guangdong firemen brigade, said at a press conference on Wednesday morning.

Rescue workers used lights while trying to free Tian Zeming from beneath an eight-metre-deep pile of rubble early on Wednesday morning. Photo: SCMP Pictures
“However, rescuing the person was extremely difficult because the hole [we had drilled] was exactly above his head. We had to dig another hole, about one metre away to his right.”

Although firemen were able to touch Tian’s hands after digging the first hole, his leg was still trapped by debris, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rescuers spent another three hours painstakingly digging a second hole in the unstable rubble so they could get into a small area of the building that had not been crushed and lift the debris pinning his leg.

He was given oxygen and an intravenous drip during the rescue, before being taken to hospital on a stretcher.

No other signs of human life were detected in the area where Tian was rescued.

However, rescuers, alerted by sounds of movement, later discovered a live chicken in another area of the site, which had survived under a huge concrete slab that had been buried six metres beneath rubble, Dahe Daily reported.

Firefighters with a rescued hen found in the rubble of a collapsed building after the Shenzhen landslide. Photo: Reuters

A firemen told the newspaper the chicken would be given a permanent home at the fire station because it represented a sign of hope.

Meanwhile, a team investigating the disaster was set up in Shenzhen on Wednesday by the State Council, the chief administrative authority.

The team, in charge of three expert panels focusing on land, work safety and disaster relief, is headed by Jiang Daming, Minister of Land and Resources.

Senior officials from other agencies, including the ministries of Public Security, Supervision and State Administration of Work Safety, plus representatives from Shenzhen municipal government also form part of the team.
Shenzhen landslide: Man found alive under eight metres of rubble survived by ‘thinking of mother and eating sunflower seeds’ Shenzhen landslide: Man found alive under eight metres of rubble survived by ‘thinking of mother and eating sunflower seeds’ Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 6:30 PM Rating: 5

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