Girl pulled from rubble at epicentre asks after family; medics daren't say they're dead Villagers had cleared an open space at the entrance to the flattened township for doctors to set up a field hospital. Dozens of injured lay in tents, most with bone fractures. In one corner was 10-year-old Zhou Hongmei. The girl had been trapped as she fled her primary school. A boulder hit her and trapped her right hand. Unable to move, she was left exposed for more than a day to the wind and rain which followed Monday's devastating earthquake, until PLA soldiers came to pull her free. 'I have not seen my papa and mom. I have not seen my elder brother and elder sister either. I miss them very much,' Hongmei said as doctor and nurses treated her hand. 'Can you tell me why they do not come to see me?' The silence that followed seemed to last an eternity. A nurse smiled. What could she say? Hongmei's parents and siblings were dead. 'When I am taken onto the plane, you must keep talking to me. I feel very lonely,' the girl told the nurse. Doctors said she may have to have her right hand amputated. When the four-storey school collapsed in the middle of the afternoon, more than 400 pupils were buried under tonnes of debris. Fewer than half escaped with their lives. Hongmei recalled what happened with surprising calmness. 'We were having a lesson in a second-floor classroom. Suddenly the ground shook. Our teacher shouted to us: 'Run quickly. Earthquake.' 'I was running across the playground when a big rock fell on me.' The school is a mass of rubble. Rescuers were working around the clock to pull out possible survivors. Parents crowded around. They screamed their children's names, the shouts echoing across the valley. Headmaster Zhang Chundong said just 215 of the 471 pupils were known to have survived. Eleven-year-old Zhang Chunmei was trapped under the debris for nearly three days before being pulled out. She has a serious leg injury. 'Doctors said her leg may have to be cut off,' said her teacher, Tang Yongzhong. 'She is a very nice girl. I kept talking to her after she was located under the debris. She told me her hair got entangled and she wanted a comb,' said Mr Tang, bursting into tears. Yingxiu, once home to 12,000 people, has been all but flattened. Ten thousand are dead or missing. Rubble and debris carpets streets and alleys once lined with low-rise blocks. The wails of survivors grieving for their loved ones filled the air when relief workers and this reporter arrived. We had walked for more than 18 hours from Dujiangyan - itself badly hit by the 7.8-magnitude quake - to reach Yingxiu in Wenchuan county, epicentre of the quake. Roads leading to the township had literally been twisted. Desperate and destitute, survivors in the mountain settlement were camped in makeshift tents, waiting for help. Authorities have pushed some 130,000 troops into the area struck by the quake to distribute aid and search for survivors. However, the massive relief operation had hardly touched Yingxiu until yesterday because landslides had blocked the only road to the village. Like us, PLA soldiers had to hike to the village. Once there, they set up a temporary pier to allow boats to transport relief supplies to the area. Even then, Mother Nature wasn't done with Yingxiu. A strong aftershock yesterday brought down a fifth of the buildings that had survived. 'I have lost everything. My father, mother and grandfather are all gone,' said a girl, collapsing at the roadside.