Volunteers give vital quake support

Updated: 2014-08-14 07:34

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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Volunteers give vital quake support
A volunteer with the Blue Sky rescue team delivers supplies to the quake zone on Aug 7, four days after the magnitude-6.5 earthquake hit Ludian county of Yunnan province. RAN WEN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Civil groups are becoming increasingly important in rescue operations, reports An Baijie in Ludian county, Yunnan province.

Cheng Kun's shouts broke the lull of the hot afternoon in Ludian county. "He is opening his eyes! Quick, move him to a cooler spot under the shade!"

Volunteers give vital quake support
Uygur volunteer Alimjan Xaliq cooks rice pilaf for the earthquake victims on Aug 9. LIN YIGUANG / XINHUA

Victims treated to Muslim food

For many Muslims in quake-hit Ludian county, the arrival of Uygur volunteer Alimjan Xaliq was good news.

Xaliq, 43, a native of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region who is famous for his charity work, left his home in the capital Urumqi for Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan on Aug 6, after hearing of the deadly quake that had struck the county three days earlier.

"The ethnic Hui people could eat only Muslim food, and I just wanted to offer a helping hand during these tough times," Xaliq said.

Official statistics showed that there were more than 70,000 members of the Muslim Hui ethnic group living in Ludian county.

Xaliq arrived at Ludian's downtown area on Aug 6 and cooked Xinjiang-style food for the people there. Three days later, he went to the epicenter at Longtoushan township after traffic to the area became smoother.

Knowing that there was a shortage of vegetables and other food supplies in the epicenter, Xaliq took carrots, onions, beef, rice and various cooking equipment on his trip. He also delivered 1,000 pieces of the traditional Xinjiang baked nang flatbread.

The food cooked by Xaliq could feed about 200 people at every meal.

Ruan Dongmei, a Muslim volunteer from a telecom company in Ludian, said that many ethnic Hui people in the quake zone were looking forward to Muslim food.

"We are glad to see that Xaliq has come with Muslim food. Many Hui ethnic volunteers have also cooked Muslim food for the people here," she said.

Xaliq, who makes a living by selling roast mutton, became known for his charitable deeds after media reported his monetary donations to hundreds of students from poor families.

He has also volunteered in the rescue operations for the Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008 and the Yushu earthquake in 2010.

- An Baijie

The soldiers quickly mobilized upon hearing the commands.

They carried the patient, who had fallen into a coma after suffering from heatstroke, to the spot. The rescuers gave the man first aid, following the instructions of Cheng carefully.

But Cheng is no military commander. He is a doctor at the Qingdao branch of Qilu Hospital and a member of the Blue Sky rescue team, a volunteer group under the Red Cross Society of China.

The doctor had just helped save another victim of the magnitude-6.5 quake that hit Ludian county in Yunnan province on Aug 3. At least 617 people have died and 112 others are missing after China's deadliest tremor since 2010.

The man who had fallen into a coma, Zhou Yingjiang, was in a hurry to return home after hearing that his house had collapsed in the quake. He fell into a coma after walking hours in the sun.

Zhou regained consciousness about half an hour after the rescuers treated him.

"Thanks for your excellent medical treatment. Without your help, I might have already died," he told Cheng.

When the quake hit, Cheng was on his honeymoon with his wife in neighboring Sichuan province. Hearing of the large number of casualties, the doctor ended his vacation and arrived at the quake zone with the Red Cross Society's Qingdao branch on the second day after the disaster. His wife followed him to volunteer in the rescue operations.

"I am a professional doctor and I believe my expertise can be helpful. I came here to save as many lives as possible," Cheng said.

Cheng was among the 240 Blue Sky members who volunteered in the quake zone.

Recognizing the crucial work that people like Cheng do, local authorities have given them top priority in the rescue operations.

At an emergency conference, Yunnan's vice-governor Yin Jianye said that all rescue forces, including the military, should not hinder the work of such professional rescue teams.

"Our top priority is to save lives buried under the debris. All military forces should help the rescuers with expertise," Yin said on the night of Aug 4, the second day after the quake.

Advanced team

Zhang Yong, who heads the Blue Sky team, arrived in the quake zone on Aug 4. Zhang said that as one of China's most advanced rescue teams, Blue Sky members usually choose the "blind areas" that other rescue forces can neglect.

"At the initial stages after a quake hits, military forces and volunteers always swarm to the epicenter. But many remote mountainous areas can also suffer heavy damage," he told China Daily.

The Blue Sky team is divided into small squads to ensure that as many locations as possible are covered, especially in regions that are far from the epicenter but also located on the seismic fault lines.

All Blue Sky members receive professional training on rescue work and they also attend rescue work courses at least once a week, he said.

"Civil rescue teams like Blue Sky are a crucial supplement to government and military forces."

"With professional equipment, we can reach remote areas quickly to help residents in the devastated spots in time," he said.

Chinese civil rescue forces came into the global spotlight during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, when the spontaneous mobilization of numerous volunteers impressed the rest of the world. Six years later, the country's social network has vastly expanded to help in another impressive round of disaster relief.


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