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Donations flood in for worker whose savings flew away

China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-06 00:56

Donations have flooded in for a migrant worker who lost his savings when it fell to the ground and was blown away in Shanghai on Sunday.

Qin Xiaoliang, 31, has so far received 14,650 yuan ($2,350) from well-wishers who read about his plight in newspapers and on social media networks.

According to police, the parcel courier had been carrying 17,600 yuan in cash when it was swept away by a strong gust of wind. Instead of helping, many passers-by simply pocketed whatever they could grab.

Qin, who comes from Anhui province's Fengtai county, was able to recover just 7,800 yuan as of Monday, police said.

The story has triggered a discussion on public morality in the nation.

Some people have donated money to cover Qin's losses after tracking him down through a police hotline and a local television station.

"He (Qin) came to help us develop the city, now he is in trouble, and we should help him enjoy a happy Spring Festival," said a donor surnamed Zheng.

Xuan Kejiong, a reporter for Shanghai TV, said more than 300 people contacted him through his micro blog to offer financial help after he wrote a post about the incident online.

Chinese businessman and philanthropist Chen Guangbiao, famed for his high-profile charity work, and prolific micro-blogger Xue Manzi also said they would make up any losses.

Qin said he never dreamed he would recoup the lost money.

"I want to thank them (the donors) and I will donate the extra (4,850 yuan) to charity after Spring Festival, when I return to Shanghai," he said.

He said he had wrapped 17,600 yuan in paper and had kept the money in his jeans pocket, but the money was blown away by the wind when he was rushing to the bank on his electric bike to deposit it on Sunday afternoon.

A witness told Shanghai Morning Post that Qin got down on his knees and begged people in the crowd who were scrambling to get the scattered 100-yuan notes to give him back the money.

"He said it was hard-earned money and that it was money he was saving to return to his hometown for Spring Festival," the witness said, adding that some people still took the money.

Another witness told the newspaper the money was gone in minutes.

"Only three people, all sanitation workers, gave me back the money at the scene," the paper quoted Qin as saying.

He said some of the money was the earnings of his 83-year-old father who worked as a road sweeper.

He said he and his father were supposed to take the night bus home to Anhui on Sunday night.

He called police for help about 1 pm.

Police officer Shi Chunhai told China Daily that Qin was crying and on his knees when he arrived at the scene.

"He only started to count the money when we put him in the police car, and it was only 3,700 yuan, of which he'd collected about 3,000 yuan and 700 yuan had been returned by strangers," Shi said.

The police contacted the owners of two cars who picked up Qin's money and drove away after tracking them down from footage on the security cameras at the crossroads. Both car owners returned the money.

Camera footage showed dozens of people, including pedestrians and people driving scooters and cars, stopping to pick up the money, but police refused to describe the incident as a mad cash grab.

"Qin lost control of his money as he ran to pick up the notes as far as 30 to 40 meters away from scene, therefore those who picked up Qin's money were confused as to who the real owner (of the money) was," said Zhao Yi, chief of Xinjing Police Station.

Police asked more than 270 nearby residents, 110 passers-by and 377 people from nearby supermarkets who might be familiar with the situation, to help Qin find his money.

Shanghai police's Sina Weibo also said a person who got out of a passing car to collect money ended up being injured by his own car in the chaos.

Gu Xiaoming, a sociologist at Fudan University, called the behavior of the passers-by a reflection of "an immature personality".

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