A conscious but severely dehydrated man was pulled out from underneath deep rubble yesterday, becoming the first person to be saved from a massive landslide in southern Shenzhen.
Mr Tian Zeming, 21, is the only survivor found so far after a three-day search, with more than 70 people still missing under tonnes of mud and rubble at an industrial park.
This comes as the State Council, or China's Cabinet, set up an official investigation team to probe the cause of the landslide that is said to be the country's worst in decades.
Though his right leg was pinned down by debris, Mr Tian survived for 67 hours on pomelo and melon seeds that he found, according to Chinese media reports.
"He said he missed his mother very much and thought to himself, 'I must get out'," a rescue leader was quoted as saying. "This young man has a strong will to survive."
Firefighters first discovered the Chongqing native at 3.30am yesterday after he succeeded in attracting their attention by using a rock to tap on debris.
Squeezing into a narrow room where Mr Tian was trapped, they removed most of the debris around him by hand, then gave him oxygen and an intravenous infusion before pulling him out at 6.30am.
Mr Tian was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. Doctors said he was in a stable condition but extremely weak.
His rescue comes as three more bodies were found, bringing the confirmed death toll to four.
Video footage showed rescuers lowering their heads in a moment of silence when the victims were pulled out.
With the "golden period" - the first 72 hours after a disaster that experts say offer the highest chances of survival - having lapsed, fears are growing that the death toll will rise sharply.
Families have been waiting anxiously for news of their loved ones, with some residents roped in to help firefighters pinpoint the location of their homes amid the debris.
The authorities have pledged to soldier on.
The government yesterday also announced that Land and Resources Minister Jiang Daming would head a team to investigate the landslide, which buried 33 buildings in an area the size of 50 football fields.
But its efforts have done little to appease public anger. Many people accused officials of ignoring a construction waste dump near the industrial park that had reached a height of 100m before it collapsed, triggering the landslide.
A family member of one of the missing told Henan-based newspaper Dahebao that the government must not only save those buried, but also apologise for the incident.
"Up till now, nobody from the government has said sorry," he said.