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Survivors from quake-leveled high school still dazed six months after
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19:50, November 11, 2008

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The 15-year-old Yu Miao, who escaped from the fatal Sichuan earthquake in May after stepping over the head of a fallen classmate, is still torn with guilt when she tries to sleep at night.

"I cannot get rid of the guilty feelings," she said. "At that time, everything was rumbling, bricks and windows started falling, people just rushed out. I had no time to think."

The building collapsed just seconds after she got out, but Yu has been blaming herself for not saving her classmate.

"I do not even know who it was. I only know it was a girl," she said, murmuring it might be her best friend who was also buried in the rubble of Juyuan Middle School in Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province.

A total of 283 students, including 14 in Yu's class, died in the quake on May 12 and were buried in the collapsed building, deputy school headmaster Yue Chongfu said.

Five teachers died trying to save their students, one of whom was Yu's geography teacher Pu Bin.

All the bodies have been cremated and the building rubble cleared away, but the shadow of the quake still throws a chill over the site.

Classes were resumed one week after the quake in tents and the school moved to temporary shelters provided by a donor and a municipal government, both from north China's Hebei Province, in this term.

"Students have not recovered from the tragedy, although they have begun to focus on their studies," Yue said.

Some had been not in the mood for learning, as the extraordinary pain of losing classmates and teachers still tore at them, and the fear that they too might die in any of the thousands of aftershocks was as painful a reminder of their nightmare as an electric shock, he said.

"They were terrified when big aftershocks happened." Thousands of aftershocks of different magnitudes happened during the past six months.

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