Friday, May 16, 2008

Moving Episodes from Sichuan's Earthquake Area

  • Chengdu (capital of Sichuan)

Last night I called a friend in Chengdu. She told me the college students are lined up in long lines to donate blood and you can see them everywhere on the streets. My friend said, "This young generation isn't as bad as you might've thought – they are very enthusiastic about giving blood."

[The following are adapted and translated from the Chinese internet]

  • Wenchuan (the epicenter) – Dujiangyan (northern suburb of Chengdu)

By 4:00pm Wednesday May 14th, about 5,000 survivors had arrived at Dujiangyan, after trudging by foot for 7 or more hours. These were self-rescued refuges from various villages spreading over the earthquake epicenter, Wenchuan County.

Chongqing man Wang Yuansheng had been working at a construction site Tuesday afternoon, setting up communication towers in Yingxiu's mountains. He was passing some materials to a co-worker in a pit, when a sudden force hurled him up in the air and then threw him several meters away. He got to his feet and realized it was an earthquake. He held on to a big tree to avoid being rolled away by landslides. The violent vibration finally calmed down, but his co-worker was already buried in the pit. Several steel towers had fallen.

Wang and a few other surviving co-workers fought continuing landslides to escape. When they eventually reached their residential area, all houses and buildings had collapsed. The men then walked to Yingxiu Township, to only find in shock that the entire densely resided town was nearly leveled to the ground.

It started to rain. The men went into a few barely standing houses to look for food. Along the way they pulled out six people alive from under the debris, including a small child. When the rain finally stopped, they walked until the next afternoon to arrive at the relatively safer Dujiangyan.

Among those arriving on foot was a couple from Xuankou who, along with two relatives, carried their 9-year-old wounded son for 7 hours. The boy was hit on his head when his school building caved in, and his right ear was cut off. He was conscious and bleeding all the way, but did not cry (his mother did). At least 7 students in his class were killed.

  • Shifang (north of Chengdu and southeast of the epicenter Wenchuan) –

On the afternoon of May 12th, the classroom building of Yinhua Township's middle school collapsed and buried over a hundred students inside.

A teacher kept looking for her favorite student, Deng Qingqing, a beautiful girl who came from a poor village family and always carried a flashlight with her to read on the dim road home. On Wednesday morning, the rescuers finally found Qingqing under the debris; she was reading a book with her flashlight. She said, "It was all dark under there, I was frightened. I was cold and hungry. I had to read to ease my fear." Her words made the teacher cry.

One girl stuck in the debris heard another girl moaning below a concrete slab. They did not know each other before. The girl above kept talking to the girl below, so that the latter wouldn't fall asleep and accidentally lose her life. Both girls were rescued the next morning. Still in big pain, the girl who had been under the concrete slab sobbed to doctors and teachers that she would never forget the other girl, because their friendship was formed at a time of life and death.

Though Shifang was near the epicenter and heavily damaged, initially its name did not show up in CCTV's earthquake area map. A netizen questioned this neglect on the Chinese web forum

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