Yaan earthquake

Quake survivors find extraordinary strength in life-or-death moments

The young, old and meek find powers they never thought possible to get themselves and their loved ones through a terrifying ordeal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 7:49am

Remarkable tales of courage and survival continued to appear in mainland media yesterday, a day after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Sichuan.

Twelve-year-old Gao Shiqin, who suffered broken bones and severe trauma to her liver and spleen during Saturday's earthquake, has survived the first round of surgery in Lushan county, the quake's epicentre, local television reported.

The girl, who was able to dig herself clear from the rubble before being found by her mother, was in stable condition early yesterday morning after doctors operated on her ruptured spleen, the news portal reported.

The operation, performed with the guidance of surgeons in Beijing via a remote connection, was the first major surgery performed since the quake hit Yaan city, the broadcaster reported. The girl was not identified, but her mother was said to be from a village in Baoxing county, one of the worst-hit areas.

The girl was taken to the Lushan county hospital by a rescue team after her mother and relatives carried her in search of medical aid for more than an hour.

Many others were equally lucky to have survived the disaster, thanks to help from relatives or strangers.

Yang Yurong, a middle-aged mother in Lushan, saved her son by lifting a 100kg concrete slab, the West China City Daily reported.

The son, Ling Li, a married father of one, was using the washroom when their home started to collapse. He was pinned under the two-metre-long slab as his family fled the house. Yang rushed back inside when her son failed to emerge.

"I don't know where I found the strength" to move the concrete slab, she was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

The mother's actions opened a 10cm-wide gap to 40cm, allowing Ling to be pulled to safety. He suffered injuries to his head and body and was taken to Lushan hospital on Saturday morning before being transferred to another one, the newspaper said.

Another report by the newspaper told of a young woman in Tianquan county who was asleep when the quake struck but escaped without injury as the room collapsed around her. Xiao Qin said the ceiling fell on her and her boyfriend, who was holding her, and they were surrounded by bricks and plaster.

"He suffered many injuries all over his body, but I'm unscathed," she was quoted as saying. "We're not yet married, but I will follow this man for the rest of my life."

A smiling little girl who suffered head wounds became famous overnight after a police officer uploaded her photo on Sina weibo, China's most widely used microblogging service. The photo showed the girl, aged about five or six, sitting in a car and smiling to the camera even though her head was wrapped in gauze bandages. Blood was visible on her hands and hoodie.

"I'm fine. I don't cry. I am very strong," the officer quoted her as saying. The police officer himself was treated for a broken foot in Yaan's Yucheng district.

"Aftershocks have occurred one after another," he wrote. "Because of this little girl, I find that the earthquake isn't terrifying."

In a remote village of the district, more than 20 villagers cleared debris for nine hours to try to save a family of four on Saturday.

Three members of the family died - a man, his father and his son - but the wife survived, Xinhua reported.

Another photo that was widely circulated via a microblog showed a young man sitting on a bench holding six laptops, three cameras and a tortoise.

A university student in Chengdu who posted the picture said the man, also a university student, was protecting his roommates' belongings.

Many microbloggers applauded the man, calling him a good roommate, particularly in light of a recent case of a student at Fudan University who allegedly poisoned his roommate, sparking a nationwide discussion about relationships between university students.

The West China City Daily also reported that an unidentified 12-year-old girl in Lushan was severely injured while protecting her younger brother.

Their parents are migrant workers in another city and the two children lived with their grandfather. They were emptying the rubbish bin when the house collapsed, and the sister swooped down on the boy and saved him, it said.