Several cab drivers from Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, wait for transferring injured people in the morning on May 13 in Dujiangyan, an earthquake-hit city in Sichuan
At midnight on May 12, it looked like rush hour on the highway between Chengdu and Dujiangyan, two cities in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Cab drivers stepped up to the plate and put their cabs on the line. As Dujiangyan lay in ruins, wrecked by an earthquake that struck at 2:28 p.m. that day, drivers took the initiative and began to ferry the injured to hospitals in Chengdu. On each return journey to Dujiangyan, they took food and water to survivors. All the while the drivers were aware that there was the danger of an aftershock.
Nobody paid cab fares and no request came from the government. After hearing reports on the radio that several hours after the quake, there was limited vehicles to transport the wounded to hospitals in Chengdu, more than 1,200 cab drivers in the city left their families behind and risked their lives to help strangers. Thanks to their rescue efforts, many critically injured people made it to Chengdu in time to be saved.
Not one of these drivers wanted his or her name made public. One cab driver who took part in the rescue, was heard on a local radio station saying, "When I saw the highway was covered by our taxis, I felt especially proud of being one of them."
On May 13, Vice Governor of Sichuan Li Chengyun was moved to tears when he publicly thanked the selfless efforts of the cab drivers in Chengdu. Chinese netizens left millions of messages on the Internet, expressing their respect for the cab drivers and dubbed them "the greatest cab drivers in the world."
Stories of cab drivers in Chengdu warmed the hearts of a nation reeling from the news of the worst earthquake in China in 30 years and galvanized people to help in whatever way they can in a monumental show of unity.
Ren Hongbin is an ordinary resident of Mianyang, a small city also devastated by the earthquake. Since May 13, Ren and the other 23 members of an off-road vehicle club organized themselves into a rescue team and transferred the wounded from seismic zones to medical facilities in safer areas. "I wanted to do something for society," said Ren to Xinhua News Agency. He said that although their efforts were very limited, they could accelerate the pace of rescue by a little bit.
Hundreds of private vehicles were also seen scurrying along whatever roads were accessible to take milk, bottled water, food and clothing to the victims. "We just want to hand over these things to them and say some comforting words to encourage them," said Zeng Damao, who was trying to get through to Beichuan County, one of the most damaged areas, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Help came in many forms and shapes. At midnight May 12, Chengdu citizens were still standing in long lines, waiting to donate blood. According to a report of Xinhua News Agency, one man in his 50s said, "I am a laid-off worker, and I don't have much money. But I can donate blood for the injured."
Outside southwest China, people search for latest information about the rescue operations, donating money, blood and rescue materials. The Ministry of Civil Affairs had received donations of 603 million yuan (about $86.2 million) as of morning at May 15. In Beijing, only one day after the earthquake struck, university students and local residents stood in lines to donate blood, while overseas Chinese are also donating money back to their motherland.
When a natural disaster strikes, it is not enough to just rely on the government to fulfill all requirements. Organized people power will also be crucial to the rescue operation. The whole nation is making an effort to help. With the whole nation's unity, confidence and perseverance, China will overcome this tragedy.