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Students brave fears and head to quake zone

Updated: 2013-04-21 21:21
By HUANG ZHILING and ZHAO LEI in Ya'an, Sichuan (

The way back was far and bitter after Saturday's earthquake hit Ya'an city, but Zhang Shiyue still rushed to return home.

The 16-year-old made her way to Lushan county, epicenter of the quake, on Sunday, despite fears about the prospect of aftershocks.

"I wanted to go home. I was worried about my family," she said, explaining she was filled with anxiety until she saw they were safe and well on Sunday morning.

"I'm really happy to be with my parents," she said.

Zhang said she hitched a ride on a military vehicle that was taking food and water to Lushan. The soldiers and rescuers on board were very kind, she said.

Ran Yao, a classmate of Zhang's at a Tianquan county school, said she was also relieved to find her family was safe.

"I was in a chemistry class when it happened, and our teacher asked us to run to the playground as soon as possible," the 17-year-old said.

After the devastation caused by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, Ran said her school often held disaster drills to prepare students.

"We were OK and got together on the playground, but some walls cracked," she said, adding that she slept in a tent with her classmates on Saturday night.

Despite great anxiety, Ran decided to go back home to Longmen town, about 30 minutes' drive from Lushan, on Sunday.

"I told my teacher and promised I'd stay safe," she said. "What I really wanted during the night was to know whether my family was fine."

After waiting more than an hour on the road back to town, Ran finally got a ride on a military truck and was reunited with her family.

"My parents were fine but the house was damaged," she said.

Gao Shangfang said he is from Baoxing county, one of the worst-hit areas, and had decided to return home after hearing that his uncle was trapped under a collapsed building.

Interviewees said about 1,000 senior students stayed at the Tianquan county school and are being cared for by teachers. Classes may restart next week.

Cao Yin contributed to this story.

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