Yaan earthquake

Broadcasters carry stories of hope; social media helps relay messages

Heartfelt stories of bravery, sorrow and hope reach millions of viewers and users

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 6:40am

Quake victims reached out yesterday via mainland media with tears, sorrow and even a few smiles with reports of selfless deeds, successful rescues and at least one birth.

Television and newspapers played a major role in transmitting the latest news, but social media also had a key part in helping to get relief efforts underway.

Shanghai-based Dragon TV was the first channel to launch a live broadcast - at 8:20am, minutes after the quake struck - while state broadcaster CCTV's Channel 13 began live news reports at about 10am. Stations in Zhejiang , Hunan , Jiangsu , Ningxia , and Hubei followed suit.

A two-year-old boy touched hearts across the nation when he was dug from the rubble, dusty and crying but suffering only minor wounds. He was later filmed being comforted by rescue workers and nurses in the accident ward of Huaxi Hospital. West China City Daily said the child's mother, who held him in her arms when the house collapsed, was still missing.

A picture of a young man carrying his father whose feet had been badly injured was carried by West China City Daily and quickly spread online among millions of users. The father and son had to wait for an hour outside a makeshift tent operating room on the grounds of Lushan town hospital, where scores of injured were sprawled. When asked whether he was tired, the younger man simply said "no".

Amid the destruction, a girl was born in a covered car park outside Yaan's People's Hospital soon after the quake, CCTV reported.

The mother had gone to hospital earlier and started contractions just as the building began to shake. She and other mothers were transferred outside where nurses delivered the baby.

The mother said she would name the girl Zhensheng ("born in an earthquake").

Social media allowed more mainlanders to help in relief efforts. Messages for help were quickly picked up by internet users and widely forwarded. Sichuan's information office updated emergency messages and information on the missing.

As communications in Yaan broke down after the quake hit, messages spread quickly via the internet and mobile phones, urging people to avoid making calls to the disaster region.

"Please do not rush to Yaan, leave the traffic lanes to rescue teams," one post said.

Li Boqing, a well-known Sichuan comedian, called for shops and individuals in Yaan to share their Wi-fi connections with the public. "Let's help pass on more information," he said.

Meanwhile, TV audiences saw an unusual scene. Chen Ying, a news anchor, was to celebrate her wedding. Instead, Chen, in her white bridal gown, was holding a microphone in one hand and flowers in the other as she interviewed a local woman.