Man missing for 17 days after Sichuan earthquake found alive

BEIJING (AP) — A man who was missing for 17 days after an earthquake in China’s southwest Sichuan province has been found alive, according to local media reports.

The 28-year-old hydropower station employee Gan Yu had stayed behind with his colleague Luo Yong after the magnitude-6.8 earthquake hit Sichuan on Sept. 5. The quake killed 93 people and injured hundreds.

Gan administered first aid for his colleagues and helped prevent flooding by releasing water from the dam, according to the state-owned China National Radio. Both Gan and Luo then stayed in the station for over a day without food or mobile signal.

The duo attempted to leave on Sept. 7, walking more than 12 miles. But Gan, who is short-sighted, had lost his glasses and was having difficulties navigating the mountainous terrain, local media reported.

The pair eventually decided to split up, with Luo going off to find assistance and Gan staying put with some wild fruits and bamboo shoots for sustenance while he waited for help.

Rescuers found Luo on Sept. 8, but when they returned to the spot where he had left Gan, he was no longer there. Finding only discarded clothing and footprints, rescuers feared that Gan might have succumbed to hypothermia.

However, Gan was discovered by a local farmer who decided to join the hunt Wednesday as he was familiar with the mountains. Ni Taigao heard Gan’s faint cries after two hours of searching and spotted him lying injured under some trees.

It was not clear why Gan had left the waiting spot. According to state-owned news outlet China Daily, Gan said he survived the 17-day ordeal by eating wild fruits and drinking water.

He was flown to a nearby hospital and doctors determined that he had several bone fractures.

Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed Gan eating a snack and being rescued, as well as reuniting with his parents from his hospital bed.