Snapshots of rescue efforts in quake-hit region

Updated: 2013-04-22 20:55


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LUSHAN, Sichuan - More than two days after a devastating earthquake jolted Southwest China's Sichuan province, people in the quake-hit region are struggling to save themselves or help others.

As of 2 p.m. on Monday, the 7.0-magnitude quake that rocked Lushan County of Ya'an City at 8:02 a.m. Saturday has left 188 people dead and 25 missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Before more relief supplies reach remote areas, local residents have begun their own rescue attempts though many have suffered injuries or lost loved ones or properties to the natural disaster.

Here are some snapshots from the quake sites.

Start from debris

Zhou Jilu, a man in his 40s, also a stockholder of the Lushan Longsheng Cotton Mill, asked staff with his factory's canteen to arrange dinners for volunteers and rescuers at the courtyard in front of his damaged workshops in Siyan Township.

Volunteer Li Meng told Xinhua that it was the best meal he had in the quake zone over the past two days, as it contained rice, fish and pickled cucumbers.

"All the equipment in my plant, which was worth more than 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars), was destroyed in the earthquake," Zhou sighed.

Zhou had run the cotton mill for seven years but saw it wrecked in a few seconds.

"No matter how worried and hopeless I feel, it won't change the fact that the factory has been destroyed," Zhou said.

So instead of commiserating, Zhou and his employees have cooked lunch and supper for people in vehicles passing by every day, hoping the dinner table could become his new starting point.

Nothing more important than life

Twenty-year-old Luo Yonglong, a resident of Wuxing Village, Longmen Township, still feels regretful as he failed to rescue a mother and son.

Though he suffered many injuries to his head, arms and legs in the quake, Luo refused treatment himself. Instead he organized 10 villagers to participate in rescue work in his village.

Wuxing has a population of about 5,000 people. As most young villagers had migrated to work away from the village, only elderly residents and children, ill-equipped physically for the post-quake relief, have been left behind.

"As soon as I heard that a mother and her baby were trapped in a toppled two-story building, we rushed to the site to save them only to find that the first floor of the building had been leveled, leaving the second floor standing on the ground," Luo said.

He asked a neighboring excavator to help and then he dug the debris with his bare hands along with other villagers so as to avoid hurting the buried mother and son.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, they retrieved their bodies.

"Nothing is more important than life. It is human instinct. I believe everyone would do like this," Luo said.

As competent as man

Unlike other female volunteers in the quake-affected region, Zhang Wenxiu, 25, believed she could do a man's work in the rescue attempts.

Zhang traveled from a county of neighboring Leshan City. She walked and hitchhiked all the way to the seriously affected Baoxing County on Sunday while many her companions gave up and returned as they found they might not be helpful after their arrival.

Then, Zhang rushed to Baoxing's Longdong Township and helped transport the injured and carry relief goods.

When she came across a firefighter whose mobile phone was out of power, Zhang handed over her newly bought phone without giving him her name.

"He is more professional in rescue and needs to learn information immediately so I thought he needed the phone more than I did," Zhang said.

"I'm healthy and can walk faster than a man," Zhang said. "I came a long way here just for the rescue, not to make trouble."