JIEGU, China - Relatives kept alive a 4-year-old girl and an elderly woman trapped by an earthquake under a collapsed house for almost a week by using bamboo poles to push water and rice through the rubble until rescuers saved them Monday.
The rare 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, state broadcaster 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 (20 kilometers) 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 to pieces around them. A young woman CCTV said was a relative pointed to an 8-inch (20-centimeter) 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, whose name was not given. "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.
Also Monday, rescuers 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 can hit lows of 27 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 3 degrees Celsius). Forecasts of snow in coming days could hinder relief efforts, state media said.
Convoys of military supply trucks were at a standstill, backed up for miles (kilometers) on the main road heading into town. At a supply depot set up on the town's edge, huge stacks of bottled water were piled up outside a warehouse. More relief goods rumbled past mountainside hamlets where residents pitched government-provided tents along a two-lane highway that is the only connection between Jiegu and the provincial capital of Xining, the nearest big city.
The surge in aid came as President Hu Jintao, who visited the area Sunday, promised the Communist Party and government were doing everything they could to help the remote Tibetan region, where residents have frequently chafed under Chinese rule. Tibetan anger over political and religious restrictions and perceived economic exploitation by the majority Han Chinese have sometimes erupted in violence.
In a sign of tensions, Jia Qinglin, China's top parliamentary adviser and the Communist Party's No. 4 ranking leader, warned at a meeting Monday of "hostile forces from abroad working to cause disruptions and sabotage" to the disaster-relief effort, CCTV reported. Jia did not mention any specific individuals.
The Chinese government often refers to supporters of the Dalai Lama and advocates of Tibetan independence as "hostile forces." The exiled spiritual leader said Saturday he'd like to visit the quake site. China is unlikely to allow a visit. In Jiegu, classes resumed at Yushi No. 3 Elementary School, with hundreds of students taking lessons in classrooms set up in tents. "Confidence! Hope!" the children chanted, led by volunteers from Beijing who organized the temporary classrooms and planned to build permanent ones.
"On the one hand, students are coming back to resume classes. On the other hand, we are giving the students some psychological treatment after the disaster," said Danzeng Jiangcuo, a sixth-grade math teacher. "We are trying to help them forget the disaster and not feel scared anymore."