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Rescues continue as survivable window narrows

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — More U.S. troops, international relief supplies were due to arrive today, as rescue teams and residents continue to search for survivors and salvage what they can from the ruins.

Amid a rising death toll and a cataclysmic humanitarian crisis, small miracles unfolded — even as the window narrowed for survivors.

Five people were rescued Monday morning from the wreckage of the Caribbean Market and the downtown business district.

A South Florida rescue team pulled a man and a girl from the market, and declared them to be in “remarkably good shape.”

The two had been trapped in the supermarket aisle that stocked peanut butter and jelly, said Frank Mainade, team leader for the Alpha Division of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Team.

After being pulled from the rubble, the first thing the man said was, “I ate a lot of peanut butter,” Mainade said.

Team member Joseph Fernandez said Monday morning’s rescue — the second reported mission where survivors were found after subsisting on supermarket staples — has given rescue workers hope at the site.

“Food has changed the entire dynamic here,” Fernandez said. “We’re pulling out not just viable, but healthy, if dusty people.

“We can’t let this site go,” he said.

In Port-au-Prince’s business district, three women were rescued Monday from a multi-story apartment building that was flattened, rescuers said.

The women — an 18-year-old, her 20-year-old sister and a 31-year-old woman — had been trapped in the rubble since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Jan. 12. They were saved by a team from Los Angeles.

Many of the buildings in this business corridor, particularly along the Grand Rue thoroughfare where the women were found, are fully collapsed. To date, international search and rescue teams have saved 71 people trapped in collapsed buildings.

But not everyone digging through the dusty mounds of concrete was looking for survivors.

Alternating between his bare hands and a shovel, Evoiel Dormeille dug through the rubble of his crumbled home Monday morning, hoping to salvage one of his wife’s most prized possessions: a passport with a U.S. stamped visa.