China / Society

Psychological aftershocks the hardest to survive

By An Baijie (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-06 07:03

I was awakened by aftershocks three times on Monday night.

The first was at 1:30 am when my tent suddenly fell down and I immediately ran out.

Psychological aftershocks the hardest to survive

Keeping a lifesaving channel to quake epicenter accessible 



Psychological aftershocks the hardest to surviveRushing to the disaster zone 

The second time I was awakened by someone yelling around 5:30 am. People were running and shouting, and I ran out of the tent again. It was dawn and I could see a slight light. No one was able, or maybe dared, to sleep. We were sitting there, waiting for the sunrise.

I felt another strong aftershock around 6:30 am. My body was shaking and people were in great fear.

We all slept on a square in the epicenter, including residents, volunteers and rescuers.

I can smell the fear, not only my own, but the fear in the air.

Although aftershocks are common after earthquakes, the lucky ones who survived might live in fear of psychological aftershocks for the rest of their lives.

I saw a woman sitting on the curb and crying loudly today. Her son was lying coldly next to her but was not able to give her a hug anymore. The young man in his 20s lost his life in the earthquake. His mother seemed to have lost her future hopes.

I doubt she could recover from "aftershocks".

Chinese movie director Feng Xiaogang filmed how people suffered from aftershocks in Tangshan Earthquake. The movie showed that the most severe trauma is not broken legs or arms, but the wounds in the heart.

I wonder how many families were suffering from this trauma.

Five times on Tuesday, I met rescuers carrying bodies.

Although Deputy Governor of Yunnan Yin Jianye expressed the importance of psychological counseling for victims, it can easily be ignored when people are focused on the rescue. However, it is important to start counseling as soon as possible.

The sudden tragedy caused the loss of loved ones, and the psychological traumas are hard to recover from.

However, the survivors have to move on.

Luo Wangshu in Beijing contributed to this story.


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