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Elderly man survives 11 days in quake rubble

A survivor was pulled alive from the rubble of China's earthquake 266 hours after the major tremor hit, state television reported on Sunday.
/ Source: news services

A survivor was pulled alive from the rubble of China's earthquake 266 hours after the major tremor hit, state television reported on Sunday.

Xiao Zhihu, an 80-year-old partially paralyzed man, was rescued in Mianzhu city on Friday. He had been trapped under a collapsed pillar of his house, and survived after being fed by his wife, the television report said.

The official death toll from the worst natural disaster to hit China in three decades stands at more than 60,000, but Premier Wen Jiabao has said the final figure could climb above 80,000, with nearly 30,000 people still missing.

News of the rescue came as forecasts of rain added to worries Sunday about relief efforts to house people left homeless by the earthquake.

The government warned that heavy rain was on the way, possibly hampering work to get temporary shelters up to house the estimated 5 million who lost their homes in Sichuan province in the May 12 earthquake.

'Torrential rains'
The State Meteorological Bureau said Sunday that parts of Sichuan would suffer "heavy and even in some areas torrential rains" later Sunday and on Monday.

The bureau warned of "possible mudslides" caused by the heavy rain.

Rescuers were also trying to reach 24 coal miners who officials said were trapped in three mines by the disaster, though they didn't know if the miners were alive.

There were no further details of the trapped miners. China's mines are the world's deadliest, with explosions, cave-ins and floods killing nearly 3,800 people last year.

Some people paused Sunday to attend church almost two weeks after the quake hit. In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, worshippers gathered at the Ping'an Bridge Catholic church to offer special prayers for the victims and to the government to overcome the crisis. 

Meanwhile, the official Xinhua News Agency said China's customs office had streamlined entry procedures for relief materials and rescue personnel. It said that on Saturday, 47 batches of overseas relief materials, including tents and medicine, and rescuers had arrived in quake-hit areas.

Aid is being sent by large and small countries.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said the first of eight military transport planes carrying tents, medicine and food landed Sunday in Chengdu. It said other flights would arrive by Monday afternoon.

A plane from Sri Lanka would land Sunday in Chengdu carrying tents, clothes and other relief materials, Xinhua said.

China desperately needs tents to house the homeless. The quake destroyed more than 15 million homes, Wen said. He said the government needed 900,000 tents, and urged Chinese manufacturers to make 30,000 a day.