A Soviet news program promised viewers a story about 17 Armenian earthquake victims who survived nearly a month under a crumbled grain elevator, then mysteriously failed to broadcast the report.

The story was promoted at the opening of Wednesday's "Vremya" news show."Seventeen people survived almost a month under the ruins of an elevator. We expect a report about this," announcer Anna Shatilova said at the beginning of the nightly news program, which is watched by tens of millions of viewers.

The story - apparently the same one denied a day earlier by Soviet officials - never materialized.

But in a report about the visit of Leningrad Communist Party leader Yuri Solovyev to the earthquake-devastated city of Leninakan, "Vremya" showed a brief picture of rescue worker Sasha Ivanov from Leningrad.

"Today, Leningrad resident Sasha Ivanov, who saved the lives of 17 people, as hundreds of his comrades from all corners of the Soviet Union, was raising a new Leninakan," the report said.

It showed Ivanov only briefly in a report of several minutes and said nothing about when or how he saved the people.

Hundreds of people were pulled alive from the wreckage of Leninakan and other cities following the Dec. 7 quake concentrated in the southern republic of Armenia that killed tens of thousands of people.

On Dec. 23, the republic's deputy prime minister said authorities were calling off the search for survivors and efforts would now focus on rebuilding. Over the objections of residents who opposed abandoning the search, bulldozers began clearing the rubble.

On Monday, French and British media reported that 17 people had been found in the remains of a bread factory near Spitak, a village in northwestern Armenia leveled by the quake.

In Paris, Europe 1 radio quoted a nurse for the French humanitarian group Doctors of the World as saying the 17 survivors were found Dec. 28. The nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying they stayed alive by eating grain and drinking melted snow.