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Earthquake survivors praise soldiers

By ZHAO LEI in Ya’an, Sichuan and CAO YIN in Beijing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-04-23 16:53

More than 300 soldiers from the Chengdu Military Area Command, divided into several groups, are conducting search and rescue missions in the villages of Lushan county, Ya’an.

Access to the villages is difficult because of landslides and debris, according to a soldier surnamed Yu.

This China Daily reporter spent almost one hour on foot following a group of 11 soldiers to Hexing village.

Aftershocks rattled the village and houses were little more than empty shells.

“Walls are fragile and may collapse at any moment," said Wu Luzheng, who is in charge of search and rescue operations in the village.

“Besides rescuing people, we also help villagers to move anything of value out of their houses, such as food,” he said.

On Sunday at noon, Wu’s group came to a collapsed building but aftershocks made search operations risky.

Cheng Haiqiang, a soldier with the group whose face was covered in dust, said the search and rescue operations will go on no matter how tired they are.

Wei Yong, a 20-year-old soldier whose hometown is in Ya’an, was worried about his family.

The soldiers said they had to explain to villagers that some properties were so dangerous that they would have to be knocked down.

“We share their grief,” Wu added.

Luo Bingrong, a villager with two daughters, thanked the soldiers.

“They (soldiers) helped me move the fridge and washing machine. I’m really moved,” she said.

A villager surnamed Zhu, who refused to give her full name, said his house in Beihe village in Longmen town collapsed in the earthquake and all seven members of her family have to sleep outside.

The village is not far from the town’s government, but the way has been blocked after the quake.

“They (the soldiers) were very careful when helping us pitch the tent. They took off their shoes to keep the tent clean and checked whether it was firm or not many times after finishing the work,”said Zhu, whose family is living in a tent pitched by the army.

The 7-magnitude earthquake that hit Lushan, Sichuan province, on Saturday left 193 dead, 25 missing and 12,211 injured as of 6 am Tuesday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced.

Also, the quake has impacted at least 1.99 million people in Sichuan. Among the 193 dead, the city of Ya’an reports 173 fatalities.

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