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Latest News
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Latest News
UPDATED: May 19, 2008  
Six Days After China Quake, Rescuers Still Determined in Search for Survivors

Exhausted rescuers have pulled out more survivors on Sunday from the rubble left by the devastating southwest China earthquake on May 12.

A woman named Yu Jinhua was saved alive around 8:10 p.m. Sunday from a flattened power plant in the Yingxiu Town of quake epicenter Wenchuan County.

"This is already a miracle. We believe she has been trapped more than 150 hours," said Lu Changchun, who came from Shandong and led the rescue operation.

A group of fire-fighters discovered Yu early Friday, but the rescue had been very difficult due to oddly misshaped structures on top of the woman and continuous aftershocks, Lu said.

"We had to be very careful and we tried five different plans. There was a dead body in the way, and her legs were already putrefied," Lu said.

Rescuers dug a five-meter deep whole to reach the woman, and had to amputate her legs before saving her.

"She was in a delirious state. She murmured she was already in a hospital and plead to stop saving her. We fed her milk and water, and her families were there to reassure her," said Ma Gang, another rescuer.

Yu has been taken to a nearby surgery.

Also in Yingxiu, a man named Shen Peiyun, 53, was rescued from his collapsed office building at 3:36 p.m. Sunday, after 146 hours in the rubble.

He suffered head injuries and was sent to Huaxi Hospital affiliated to Sichuan University in Chengdu. Doctors said he had a "very good chance" of recovery.

Shen was conscious and clutched the hand of a People's Liberation Army doctor throughout his 30-minute trip by helicopter to the provincial capital Chengdu, the China Central Television reported.

Sunday also witnessed another tale of survival in which a slightly bruised man Tang Xiong was pulled from a collapsed hospital of Beichuan County at 9:15 a.m., 139 hours after the quake.

Tang was still conscious when he was pulled out, said rescuers. His wife was rescued on Thursday.

The survival tales followed from Saturday which saw more than 60 people saved from the earthquake wreckage.

Also in Beichuan, one of the worst-hit counties in the 8.0-magnitude quake, a man Wu Jianping was rescued at 9:55 p.m. Saturday from a collapsed building, 127 hours after the tremor.

Monday's quake, the strongest to hit New China, had killed 32,476 people as of 2 p.m. Sunday, including 31,978 in Sichuan. An additional 220,109 people were injured nationwide, according to the emergency response office of the State Council.

A 61-year-old woman, who had been buried for 127 hours, was saved from a ruined dormitory building in Dujiangyan by Russian rescuers late Saturday night. She was the first survivor found by a foreign rescue team.

Although the time for the best chance of rescue, the first 72 hours after an earthquake, had passed, "saving people's lives is still the top priority of the relief work", President Hu Jintao said Saturday night.

Hu flew to Sichuan on Friday from Beijing to oversee relief work in the worst-hit areas. The government has mobilized rescue staff to conduct thorough searches in quake-ravaged villages for possible survivors and to never give up.

Qian Gang, author of the book Tangshan Earthquake, said 72-hourperiod was just an average time, as many people had survived for much longer.

Qian, who spent ten years interviewing survivors of the Tangshan earthquake that claimed more than 240,000 lives in 1976 in Hebei Province, said it was possible that people could live after being buried for more than eight days if they had the will to survive.

He cited the case of an elderly woman who drank her own urine to sustain her for 13 days until rescuers pulled her out of the debris.


On Sunday, President Hu asked rescuers to use "every available means" to reach every village affected by the earthquake.

"We must try every method to send rescuers to every quake-hit village, instead of just working in towns and cities, since a large number of soldiers have entered the quake-hit regions," said Hu, while visiting Yinghua township of Shifang city.

"We must send rescue teams, carrying food and drinking water, to the worst-hit villages, even on foot, as soon as possible," Hu said, traveling on bumpy roads to visit one quake-hit villages to another, comforting victims and encouraging rescuers.

He was surrounded by wailing women when he visited a temporary shelter camp at Yinghua.

"I know you lost family and property. I share the pain with you," he said. "We will try every effort to save your people once there is the slightest hope and possibility."

Hu also hugged an 8-year-old boy when visiting a family in the camp and told him, "You must learn to be brave and not to surrender to difficulties even if you are a child. We shall have confidence, courage and strength."

Walking over the rubble of a fertilizer factory building, Hu told the rescuers working at the site that every trapped person was counting on them and they should seize every second to work as time was limited.

"I truly believe that the heroic Chinese people will not yield to any difficulty!" he shouted to a group of rescuers.


On Sunday, China announced a rare three-day national mourning in tribute to the quake victims. The national flags will be kept at half-mast and all public amusements will be suspended. The Olympic torch relay will also be suspended during the period.

In less than a week after the deadly earthquake, the Chinese nation has been pulsating with the lives of the quake-hit victims.

More than 110,000 soldiers and armed policemen were in rescue operations, with the help of thousands of volunteers who swarmed the areas to help in any way they could.

Across the country, Chinese people opened their wallets and sympathized with the people affected in the disaster. Kindergarten children, beggars and even prisoners made their donations.

In the capital Beijing, people lined streets to donate blood. In Chengdu, residents and volunteers flooded to stores to buy milk powder and clothes for children orphaned by the quake. In northwest China's Gansu province, two villagers carried four tonnes of eggs to the quake-jolted areas, while people in Xinjiang baked pancakes to be trucked to Sichuan.

Chinese netizens hustled to translate handbooks written in foreign languages to provide information on the rescue and psychological intervention.

While the rescue work in the quake-affected areas is still difficult and epidemic and floods risks are high, the country is making all-out efforts to fight the disaster.

"The Chinese nation has a honored tradition of fighting in solidarity and succumbing to no hardship or difficulties," said President Hu Jintao in Sichuan.

"As long as the whole Party, the whole army and our people unite in strength and engage in brave fighting, we will get over all kinds of difficulties and win the battle," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2008)

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