Quake reporter recalls brush with death

By Xie Fang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-15 23:16

When all hope was lost, three local heroes arrived on the scene -- an ethnic Tibetan man, who managed to steer his car away from the falling rocks, and two ethnic Qiang men, who were transporting vegetables to the Dujiangyan city market.

Our minibus was nearly buried under rocks, but they managed to pry open a small hole in the cabin by using an iron bar and tree branches. The three saviors pulled us out one by one.

It was the third time the Tibetan man helped save people’s lives that day, he told me later. He dragged us, one after another, to a safe place, while rocks kept falling.

As I was dragged from the van, my clothes were torn I was left wearing nothing but my underwear. A male journalist took off his clothes and gave them to me to protect me against the cold and rain.

At about 7 pm, our group, which now included the rescuers, found an empty bus parked nearby and stayed in the vehicle overnight. We took turns to watch out for more fallings rocks and snakes, which had been disturbed by the quake.

I heard rocks all the time, and it didn’t feel safe at all in the bus.

The next day, we relocated to the banks of a river. We used seat covers as blankets and picked up vegetables, which had spilled on the road from the vendor’s vehicle.

Later we met a group of local villagers on their way to Wenchuan, the epicenter of the quake, to help with the rescue effort. They were eager to help people trapped under rubble, and could not help us get back to Dujiangyan.

On Wednesday morning, we decided to take the risk of walking, and the journey took nearly nine hours.

We left behind three severely injured members of the group — and I broke my promise and cried as I waved goodbye.

On the long march, our group, led by the Tibetan man, linked hands as we trekked the steep and muddy mountain path.

During the journey, I was exhausted and wondered whether I would survive. Nobody had eaten or drank water for 2 days, but I refused to give up.

If I loosened my grip, other people’s lives would have been at risk, so I held on and made up my mind to push on, even if I ended up crawling.

We eventually arrived in Dujiangyan, and doctors sent our group to Chengdu by ambulance.

My neck was injured but luckily, not seriously.

The three people left behind have also been rescued.

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