Villagers called local heroes for saving survivors

Updated: 2011-07-28 07:22

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)

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WENZHOU, Zhejiang - Residents in Shuang'ao village were praised as heroes for their volunteer efforts in rescuing injured passengers trapped in the wreckage of Saturday's deadly train collision.

The rescue work by authorities, in contrast, attracted questions and criticism.

Shortly after four carriages of a bullet train fell off a 15-meter-high viaduct following a rear-end collision, dozens of residents in this tiny village pitched in to help relocate victims to safe areas before professional rescuers arrived.

Among them was 58-year-old Gao Shengfu, who helped about 30 passengers out of danger with his fellow villagers - carrying them on their backs or delivering them on makeshift stretchers.

"There's wasn't much time to ponder," Gao said on Tuesday, holding his swollen left hand injured in the rescue. "It was dreadful to see the dead bodies and my mind was full of thoughts to get them out."

Chen Shangfeng, an employee of a small local workshop, saved at least three people by breaking the sealed windows with rocks in a carriage that was leaning vertically against the elevated bridge.

"They are double-pane windows, so it took a lot of effort," he said. After 10 minutes of powerful hammering, a lifesaving exit was opened for 14-year-old Zhang Dongyi and his grandparents. The trio suffered only minor scrapes.

Wu Jiapan, who dragged three injured women and one man to safety, became a neighborhood hero. He was one of the first to dash into a wrecked carriage through a crack one meter wide, and used his mobile phone for light during his rescue efforts.

However, the rescue work carried out by the government and the Ministry of Railways was widely questioned and criticized.

Peng Bibo, head of the medical team of the China International Search and Rescue Team, told Beijing News the rescue work by the authorities "made mistakes".

"The first 72 hours after such accidents is the golden period to save lives. However, the rescuers gave up searching for survivors after too short a period of time," Peng was quoted as saying.

The rescue work for survivors was halted on Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after the accident happened at about 8:30 on Saturday night.

The fact that a 2-year-old girl named Xiang Weiyi was found alive in a damaged carriage on Sunday afternoon echoed Peng's comments on the rescue work.

According to an online video, Yang Feng, who lost four families members, including his wife and unborn child, asked: "Why was the girl rescued alive after the authorities said no signs of life were detected and rescue work was ordered to stop? If the rescue work had lasted longer, would there be a possibility that my wife could have been rescued alive?"

Traffic on the track where the collision happened resumed on Monday, while the detailed cause of the deadly accident that killed at least 39 people is still unclear.


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