A woman buried alive in the Armenian earthquake helped keep her 3-year-old child alive by feeding the tot her own blood during the eight days they were entombed, a health official said Saturday.

The 30-year-old mother apparently punctured each of her fingers repeatedly and had the child suck on them as a source of nourishment, said Dr. Ophelia Nazaryan, head physician at Childrens Hospital No. 3 in the Armenian capital Yerevan.Trapped in a cellar when the Dec. 7 quake collapsed buildings in their home city of Leninakan, the mother and child were rescued Thursday, Nazaryan said in a telephone interview.

Doctors said the child was in good condition Saturday and that the mother's health was improving. Both lost a lot of weight during their ordeal, said Nazaryan, who did not identify the mother or child.

The quake killed an estimated 55,000 people and injured thousands more in the southern Soviet republic.