Nine days after they were believed killed by the tsunami, an elderly woman and her teenage grandson were found alive in the rubble of their home in north-east Japan on Sunday.

The 80-year-old and the boy survived by eating yoghurt and other scraps of food salvaged from a refrigerator after being trapped in their home in Ishinomaki, one of the worst-hit coastal cities.

They were found by police when 16-year-old Jin Abe called out for help from the roof of their residence after managing to pull himself from the debris.

His grandmother, Sumi Abe, is disabled and could not leave the property unaided. When she was found, she had lost feeling in at least one of her legs.

The national broadcaster, NHK, has run images of a helicopter winching her out of danger in a yellow harness.

The pair are now receiving medical treatment in the city's Red Cross hospital.

The astonishing rescue has given a much-needed boost to emergency workers amid a growing death toll from Japan's deadliest disaster since the second world war. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011

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