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Truck attack survivors try to heal
By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-08 08:00

ZHUHAI: Pale toes poked out of the emergency room door, followed by the gliding body of Fan Yuedi, 17, as the unconscious girl's gurney was wheeled to the Doumen District People's Hospital's intensive care unit on Friday afternoon.

"Doctors said she sustained a serious head injury, so it's hard to tell when she might wake up," her aunt Fan Peihua sobbed.

"What a good and diligent girl. Her life was totally ruined by that crazy driver."

Luo Xiaoji, a desperate 34-year-old man bent on retaliating against society, drove his truck into the crowded schoolyard of Dongcheng Middle School on Wednesday evening, killing five students and injuring 19. He was shot dead by police about 1 km from the school.

After taking a day off, 62 of the 3,877 students were still unable to return to school on Friday, but 95 percent of classes were running normally, the school's vice-president Chen Liansheng said.

Zhuhai psychological health center's deputy director Zhu Hai said: "The emotional distress, especially of the witnesses, can't be alleviated in a short time. It will take at least three months."

Since Thursday the local education authority has dispatched 28 psychologists to the school to provide therapy for the teachers, students and parents at their request.

The shocking news has overwhelmed residents in Doumen, Zhuhai's remotest district, located 35 km from downtown. Motorbikes are the primary mode of transport in the underdeveloped area.

"We heard the gunshot and, before we realized what had happened, his truck crashed into a van parked in front of my grocery," the store's owner, who only gave his surname, Zhang, told China Daily.

"If the police could not have shot him right then, more people dining in the open-air restaurants 20 m away might have been killed."

The driver's neighbors espoused sympathy for the "quiet and unfortunate" driver, who had moved from Hubei province less than two years ago.

Luo rented a shabby unit in an industrial building 600 m from the school for 50 yuan ($7) a month. He preferred to stay home, reading martial arts novels and saving every cent to support his family, a vehicle maintenance shop owner familiar with him surnamed Liu, said.

The man said Luo bought a secondhand motorbike for 1,800 yuan this year after his construction materials transport business took a turn for the worse. Police later confiscated Liu's driver's license, which had cost him 7,000 yuan, for using the vehicle for illegal commercial operations.

"His life was really tough. His wife also tried divorcing him, which made him even more desperate," Liu said.

On Tuesday, he had asked his best friend, whose son studies at Chengdong Middle School, to keep the boy home the next day, because he would kill students. But the warning went unheeded, Liu said.

(China Daily 11/08/2008 page3)