Haiti earthquake: Survivor found just hours after search had been called off

Dramatic rescue underway for other survivors possibly trapped under the rubble of a hotel in Port-au-Prince

The man entombed under the building is believed to be in his 20s, Wismond Exantus Jean Pierre, who was working as a cashier when the earthquake struck.

At the scene, his brother Jean Elie told journalists that he had been talking to him through the shattered rubble. He said he had been there every day since the earthquake trying to find him but only managed to make contact today.

A large French rescue team had also sealed off the road around the broken hotel and began bringing in specialist equipment, as well as generators, saying they were expecting a long operation.

"He is under four floors. It is a difficult operation," once rescue worker said.

Jean Elie said: "Today is the first time was the first time we communicated with him. He asked for us to save him."

As far as his brother knew he did not have food or water, because he was trapped in an area away from the provisions.

"God has been keeping him alive," he said.

He added that he was disappointed by the decision of the government to disband the rescue operations, saying they should continue.

The "heartbreaking" decision by Haiti's government to call off rescue operations was taken a day after a young man and an ­elderly woman were pulled out alive after 10 days buried in debris, probably the last such cases.

"Hope is vanishing now, though we could still have miracles," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs. "The government has declared the search-and-rescue operations over."

The announcement came as the official death toll from the 12 January quake climbed to at least 120,000, a figure that will continue to rise as more corpses are unearthed.

A large crowd gathered in front of the ruins of Notre Dame de l'Assomption cathedral yesterday for the funeral of the Roman Catholic archbishop, Joseph Serge Miot, who died in the 7.0-magnitude quake. His body will be transferred to a new cathedral when it is built, said church officials.

With voices from under the rubble falling silent, some rescue teams had packed up and left even before the official end of rescue operations. British teams with sniffer dogs were expected to arrive back at Gatwick airport yesterday after pulling three survivors from rubble, including a toddler called Mia.

"We should all be proud of the brave British firefighters who worked tirelessly to help the Haitians, in difficult and dangerous conditions," said Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary. "I would like to thank them on behalf of the UK government."

Speaking from Geneva, Byrs said the Haitian government's announcement did not mean all rescue teams would immediately cease working. "In cases where there is the slightest sign of life, they will act," she explained.

Some critics have complained that rescue efforts diverted resources that could have saved more lives if they had been used to treat Haiti's estimated 250,000 injured. But Fernando Alvarez Bravo, a representative for rescue crews founded during the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, said rescue efforts gave the rest of the population the assurance they had not been abandoned.

About 130 people were pulled alive from collapsed buildings by international teams, including two on Friday. An 84-year-old woman, dehydrated, injured and almost skeletal, was found in her home. Doctors who treated her with intravenous fluids and drugs said she was in a critical condition.

Emmanuel Boso, 21, emerged in better shape after an Israeli team extracted him from the ruins of his home. Speaking from a hospital bed, he described stepping out from the shower when the earthquake hit. "I felt the house dancing around me," he told AP. "I didn't know if I was up or down." Furniture collapsed around him in a way that created a nook. The student told of how he passed out in the rubble and dreamt that he could hear his mother crying. He had no food and drank his own urine. "I am here today because God wants it."

Aftershocks have continued to jolt the city, keeping most people outdoors at night. The US Geological Survey said there was a 3% chance of another 7.0-magnitude earthquake and a 25% chance of a 6.0.

An exodus from the capital has gathered pace as people abandon squalid, makeshift camps that have begun reporting diarrhoea and other hygiene-related ailments. Up to 200,000 people, according to USAid, have packed boats and buses to other towns and rural areas that are dirt-poor and lack infrastructure, but are undamaged. The UN estimates that up to one million, a third of the city's population, could eventually leave.

The government has outlined plans to erect 11 tent cities to accommodate 400,000 people, but the International Organisation for Migration estimates only one tenth of the 200,000 tents needed have arrived.

"The most important thing is to get people off the streets and give them shelter," said Marie-Laurence Lassègue, the information minister. President René Préval had dispatched ministers to the worst-affected areas to assess needs and support local officials. Authorities were regaining control, she said. "In the first few days, we didn't know what was in the [aid] planes. Now we do."

The US military, with 13,000 personnel in Haiti and on ships offshore, continued expanding its role and influence. On Friday, it formally obtained broad authority to control air and sea ports and to secure roads to support relief efforts. The agreement, signed by the US and UN, sought to clarify the division of powers among Haitian police, UN peacekeepers and US troops.

A two-hour telethon by film and music stars on Friday sought to boost the $1.2bn aid pledges to Haiti.

Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former White House aide, said a more effective response would be for the US, Canada and France to welcome more Haitian migrants. "A substantial number of Haitians must be allowed to move to richer countries – including ours," he wrote in the Washington Post. "Migration would mean that Haiti needs to provide fewer hospital beds, schools, meals and jobs – and migrants' remittances will be key to Haiti's economic recovery for decades to come."


Rory Carroll and Inigo Gilmore

The GuardianTramp

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