JIEGU, China – A 4-year-old girl and an elderly woman trapped under a collapsed house for almost a week were kept alive by relatives using bamboo poles to push water and rice through the earthquake rubble until rescuers saved them Monday.

The good news came as the death toll in China’s remote Tibetan region jumped to nearly 2,000.

Rescuers also freed a third person Monday from the rubble of a hillside house that toppled when the magnitude-6.9 temblor struck Yushu county of Qinghai province Wednesday morning, China Central Television reported.

The death toll from the quake climbed to 1,944, while more than 12,100 people were hurt, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Relief and reconstruction work accelerated, with power and telecommunications services largely restored and aid convoys arriving in droves.

The rescue of Wujian Cuomao, 68, and Cairen Baji, 4, from a crumbled home in a village about 13 miles from the hardest-hit town of Jiegu was hailed by state media as a miracle and repeatedly played on television news broadcasts.

Footage showed workers in orange suits and safety helmets lifting the bewildered-looking white-haired woman onto a stretcher and into an ambulance. The visibly tired child lay wrapped in a blanket in the arms of a rescuer. Debris had pressed down on the girl’s chest, CCTV said, but she suffered no injuries. The report said the woman’s life was not in danger.

The woman and child were protected by a wooden bed frame, which they huddled under as the house fell around them. A young woman CCTV said was a relative pointed to an 8-inch gap between the floor and a corner of the broken bed frame.

“When the earthquake happened the house fell and they were buried under here,” said the woman. “We sent them food every day.”

CCTV reported relatives used bamboo poles to push water and rice through the narrow gap to the trapped pair. Rescuers on Monday also freed a Tibetan woman named Ritu from her collapsed house on a hillside, CCTV said. Half her body had been trapped by the debris, the report said, but her vital signs were stable.

In Jiegu, thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks picked at rubble with shovels, performed funeral rites and threw food to survivors from the backs of trucks.

Efforts were shifting toward rebuilding to help the tens of thousands left homeless in the elevated area where temperatures at this time of year can hit lows of 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow that is forecast in coming days could hinder relief efforts, state media said.


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