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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – A man buried for 11 days in the wreckage of Haiti’s devastating earthquake was pulled from the rubble, as officials said they were shifting their focus from rescue to caring for the thousands of survivors living in squalid, makeshift camps.
Rescuers reached Wismond Exantus by digging a tunnel into a destroyed fruit and vegetable shop, French officials said, on the same day the U.N. announced that the Haitian government had declared an end to searches for living people trapped under debris.
Exantus, who is in his 20s, was placed on a stretcher and given intravenous fluids as onlookers cheered. He later told The Associated Press he survived by diving under a desk during the quake and later consuming some cola, beer and cookies in the cramped space.
“I was hungry, but every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive,” Exantus said from his hospital bed.
Meanwhile on Saturday hundreds gathered for the funeral of the archbishop of Haiti’s stricken capital, a rare formal ceremony in a shattered nation where mass graves hold many of the dead.
Only a small number of funerals have been held since the 7.0-magnitude quake struck, with most people buried anonymously and without ceremony in mass graves on the outskirts of the city.
An estimated 200,000 people died, according to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission. The United Nations said Saturday the government had preliminarily confirmed 111,481 bodies, but that figure does not account for corpses buried by relatives.
While the two-hour ceremony was held for Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot and vicar Charles Benoit, who also perished in the Jan. 12 earthquake, people in the crowd of about 2,000 wept for deeply personal losses.
“We feel like we have lost everything. Our child, our country, our friend,” said Junior Sant Juste, a 30-year-old father whose 3-year-old daughter died when his home collapsed.
Experts said it was unlikely that there were many more survivors and the chance of saving trapped people begins diminishing after 72 hours.
Authorities have stopped short of explicitly directing all teams to halt rescue efforts, and searchers continued picking through the ruins. But U.N. relief workers said the shift in focus is critical: While deliveries of food, medicine and water have ticked up after initial logjams, the need continues to be overwhelming and doctors fear outbreaks of disease in the camps.
“It doesn’t mean the government will order them to stop. In case there is the slightest sign of life, they will act,” U.N. spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said. She added that, “except for miracles, hope is unfortunately fading.”
All told, some 132 people have been pulled alive from beneath collapsed buildings by international search and rescue teams, she said.
Also on Saturday, organizers for the all-star “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon in the U.S. said the event raised $57 million – and counting. The two-hour telethon aired Friday night and was also streamed live online. Such stars Brad Pitt, Beyonce, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and more used their presence to encourage donations for Haiti.
As many as 200,000 people have fled Port-au-Prnce, a city of 2 million, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. About 609,000 people are homeless in the capital’s metropolitan area, and the United Nations estimates that up to 1 million could leave Haiti’s destroyed cities for rural areas already struggling with extreme poverty.
The quake destroyed key government buildings including the National Palace, hampering the work of what was already a weak and inefficient state. In the days after the quake, aid groups complained about the U.S. military control of the international airport, which became key for supplies because of a damaged seaport.
Flights have since increased, but President Rene Preval and former French Cabinet Minister Nicole S. Guedj on Saturday appealed for the creation of a U.N. humanitarian intervention force to coordinate and mobilize aid in international disasters. The force could be known as the Red Helmets, they suggested, as opposed to the blue-helmeted U.N. military peacekeepers.
Associated Press writers contributing to this story include Mike Melia, Jonathan M. Katz, Michelle Faul and Paul Haven in Port-au-Prince and Frank Jordans in Geneva.