China:国殇; survival stories in QUAKE

We live in Shenzhen.

Yesterday, when my mom was in a taxi home, she heard the driver muttering, “I have stopped my work for the entire 2 last days.”

“Why so?” curiously asking.

After a while of silence, he sighed: “I have been riveted by the TV, watching closely what was happening in Sichuan about the earthquake, not feeling like to budge at all…”

Listening to my mom tell about a common cab driver in a coastal city thousands of miles away from the epicenter, nevertheless pouring all his attention to another part of the country, I understand why the quake this time should be called a trauma of the whole China ——no matter where one is, what one does, he/she has been in these days mentally and even physically, a lot of them, connected to where people have been suffering the most.

Thrilled, panicked, confused, poor at utterance, then bursting into an emotional crack, finally into deep pathos, this mental process might have stricken a great many of the 1.3 billion Chinese in these days, regardless of the remoteness of their being from the epicenter.

At this point, all Chinese are all the same. That’s why shortly after the quake, a saying emerged on hundreds of net forums, websites, and text messages:

At this moment, we are all Sichuaners.

Survival stories————————————-School came to be where funerals happened.

Shattered schools formed the most agonizing pictures in this earthquake. Their easy collapses took thousands of innocent children away. The authority has promised to check who should be responsible for these shoddy constructions.

Beichuan middle school

A shattered school

Precious young lives were buried by such a low quality, but also a lot got saved, primarily, by their teachers.

Among those names tied to the crisis and unforgotten by China, teachers’ take up a notable place. They brought hope to children.

girl teacher

This girl teacher is only 20. In the school in Shifang where she worked, she ran time after time into the 3-story teaching building to save the best she could. While at the last time she got buried forever. 13 students were saved by her.

In Shifang as well, a reporter from Chongqing recorded how a girl got her life saved by a teacher.


Wang Zhouming is a young teacher, who takes charge of 50 students. When the tremor occurred, he led the students to escape from 2 ways, the front and back door separately. Exactly at the time when the house crumbling to dust, he rushed to a girl and pushed her away, hit dead by a crossbeam on the head himself.

At the same school, another teacher protected 3 girls with her own body.

Moreover, in a middle school at Deyang, Hanwan town(德阳,汉汪镇), a rescue crew described what he saw on the relic:


When we found him (a teacher), he stretched his arms lying on the desk, with 4 students protected under his body. They are all alive, except the teacher.

In a report from China-army net, a journalist told what he witnessed at a kindergarten in Beichuan county, where so far over 8000 have been killed.


…..Very soon, the girl named Cheng-siyu was rescued. But the soldiers were then stunned at the scene——right around the kid 3 statue-like female teachers were embosoming her. Obviously, they protected the kid at the last moment of their life.

Beichuan (北川)county, a devastated town, a dead place, fell down in the quake waves. Troops spent quite a few hours before they managed to enter the town due to the landslide and broken roads.

How a journalist described such a flattened place is here


I followed huge rocks and creeped upon mud with my hands and legs, taking hours trying to down to the county meters below. I could hardly believe what was exposed in front of me: not a single house is intact, most of them flattened, all the mess, and a few relics still smoking. Trucks and rescuers rowed past.
A more grisly fact is that under every huge debris there could be trapped people. As far as I know, only 4000 of the total 10000 here have survived.

beichuan county

The town witnessed numerous touching, saddening moments.

In the first days the town is hardly accessible, because the roads had not yet been repaired.

Thus little rescue was available. But even before the first soldier managed to rush in, 7 teachers had led 72 students to fight a way out, along a winding path in the mountains to the world outside. They marched for 6 hours, during which they had to avoid all the falling rocks and periodic aftershocks, and pouring rain.

7 72

The 72 kids were finally safe.

The thirst for survival drove many to risk all the adversity to struggle a way out. A couple went further than the teachers and students aforementioned. After collecting some money from their shattered house, the couple spent 30 hours trudging through 6 mountains and running to the world outside.

And so were this pair of children!

sister and brother
The brother, Zhang-jiwan, carried his 3-year-old sister on the back, and rushed out of Beichuan County. They had spent 12 hours before the reporter took the picture and helped them to Mainyang. Their parents were migrant workers, not at home. Their grandparents were too old to walk fast. The boy thus took the responsibility like a man.

Over 1 thousand victims have escaped from their hometown, Beichuan, on feet through the mountains, under falling rocks and rain, to find the new hope of life.

Also in Beichuan.

So many flesh monuments have explained what human nature is.

A personal note of a journalist writes:

在县城一处倒塌的房前,一面平移了四五米的墙壁死死地压在两个大人身上,大人身下又护着一位小女 孩。人们纷纷谈论,将孩子护在身下的肯定是小女孩的家长,危难关头.

In a collapsed house in the county, a shifting wall tightly pressed upon two adults, with one little girl lying under them. People talked over, that it must be the parents that protected their child at the crisis.

People sacrificed  more or less for their life.

Yue-yue, a girl whose primary school of totally 500 children was destroyed by a landslide, got buried for 3 days. Her left leg was pressed under the relic, unable to be moved out. The rescuers had to make the tough decision to amputate the leg.

Chen, the doctor, heard Yue-yue imploring: please!Just don’t cut off my leg.”

20 minutes, after the necessary surgery, she was pulled out. And Yue-yue asked,” Am I the bravest?”

Chen couldn’t help but covered his eyes……

But her schoolmate Fan-quanyan was not so lucky. After 60 hours being trapped under the relic, she was saved. But shortly after 10 minutes, not even before the crowd could take time to celebrate, her breath ceased.

A tall and strong soldier kneeled down by her, saying,” sorry, I am so sorry…..”
fan quanyan

And the following pictures were taken exactly one day (7 hours, actually) before the earthquake.

senior3 kids 1
senior3 kids 2
The senior 3 kids of Beichuan middle school were taking a chance to relax, as the fate-determined college entrance exam was approaching.

People found the pictures from a blog of Mr. Tang, a teacher there. After the quake, though thousands of anxious netizens were waiting for this blogger, the blog was not updated. People came to moan that the kids were never more, only their smiling preserved. The middle school had 1200 students buried in this tremor.

But finally, reporters from South Metropolis Daily found the teacher, and the great news is, all the kids on the pictures were safe! Their building narrowly escaped the disaster.

How many more survival stories should I account to record so deep a cut on China but so strong a will of Chinese for survival? It’ll never be sufficient.

What could have supported those victims’ will of survival after being buried under the relic for tens of hours, in a confined space, without sustenance, without a slight voice from outside, and without any light?It might be just a bottle of Coke.

The boy, Xue-Xiao, 17, was finally rescued out after 80 hours stranded. His first words are: “I want a Coke…”
“Sure, soon!” rescuers answered.
“And cool Coke.” He added.
coke boy

The Coke boy

The boy was hotly discussed on the internet, the footage recording the scene by CCTV widely circulated. Some thought Coke should really pay him for the advertisement, and some questioned the boy was too addicted. But most people just thought he was so optimistic and innocent.

But those chiding the boy of saying so trivial a thing should be regretting. The boy’s right hand and leg were all necrotic, soon being amputated. He could no longer take up a coke with his habitual hand.

Another man, after being trapped for 129 hours, got saved. And 2 hours later, he passed away. The tough-minded life passed away at the very last moment.

The story of a mom should be proper to end this article. (A rough translation)

抢救人员发现她的时候,她已经死了,是被垮塌下来的房子压死的,透过那一堆废墟的的间隙可以看到她死亡的姿势,双膝跪着,整个上身向前匍匐着,双手扶着地 支撑着身体,有些象古人行跪拜礼,只是身体被压的变形了,看上去有些诡异。救援人员从废墟的空隙伸手进去确认了她已经死亡,又在冲着废墟喊了几声,用撬棍 在在砖头上敲了几下,里面没有任何回应

She was found dead under the collapsed house, kneeling down, creeping and leaning forward, both hands on the ground holding her body…..


Suddenly, people found a 3-4 month baby under her body, wrapped in a red-yellow quilt. Because of the mother’s protecting, he remained unhurt. He was sleeping so peacefully, making all the people around warm.


When the doctors were examining the kid, a cell phone was found inside the quilt. An already written text message appeared on the screen.
“Dear baby, if you are alive, please remember I love you.”

baby,new life

The baby. Her mother's gone. But isn't it herself a symbol of new life, the new life of all those suffered so much?


  • Knights

    Wei, People like you are needed and appreciated. Your arguments are very rational and good ground for debate. I love reading your comments in different GVO posts. I hope you write a book or something in the future. I am sure it will be excellent sell.

  • If you’re man, you are sure moved.

  • […] Tree under China | Tags: China, Sichuan earthquake |   Blogger Bob Chen of Global Voices has a lengthy post filled with photos and stories of bravery in the face of tragedy. The stories have a legendary Lei Feng-like quality; their heroic spirit is […]

  • A chinese

    Thanks for all the people who concerned with this disaster. With your bless,we can overcome the difficulties. I am a college student,and I must study hard to contribute to the peace. Thanks again for the ones who support the peace.

  • Sonagi

    Poignant pictures and moving stories. It is bittersweet to see the teenagers playing together lightheartedly on what was the last day of their lives for some.

  • It moved me to tears. At this moment, the world just plain hurts.

  • Wei


    Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to logical conversations and debates with you and others on this site.

    On this thread however, I hope there will be solitarity on remembering the victims of this earthquake.

  • Kyle

    Thanks for the story update.I almost cry at work! It’s not easy to hold the tears back and it’s even not easier for those that lose their loved ones. T.T

    We could see human nobility in times of need.
    May God bless their souls and I pray for the alive to be strong.

  • These happenings are genuine, sincere, and all bursting out of the human nature; Their illuminating power could by no means be overstated, or blemished.

    I have to say that they are so prevalent in these days that one could not be called objective if he’s to ignore all of these.
    Indeed, we’ll care the efficiency of distribution of aid, the shoddy constructions rocked down in quake, and keep an eye on any corruption, but I just feel compelled to first wirte down the stories of LIFE before going further, beacause they are destined to become the collective memory of this nation.

    And thank you for all your care!

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