Microblogs unite rescuers in Wenzhou train disaster

16:41, July 27, 2011      

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Ye Qiu (right), a volunteer from the Wenzhou Car Owner Club, helps two persons from Duzhou to find their relatives at a relocation site in Wenzhou. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)

"Help us! Bullet Train D301 has derailed in a place not far from the Wenzhou South Railway Station! Children are crying in the train! No train attendant has managed to get out! Help us! Hurry up!"

This was a message written by an Internet user on a microblog at 8:47 p.m. on July 23.

A tragedy had just happened unexpectedly: At 8:38 p.m. on July 23 somewhere between Yongjia Railway State and Wenzhou South Railway Station on the Hangzhou-Shenzhen Railway, the D301 train departing from Beijing South Railway Station to Fuzhou ran into the tail of the D3115 train departing from Hangzhou to Fuzhou South Railway Station.

After the disaster occurred, the online and offline network of friends through took actions immediately and united through the power of microblogging into a "front line" rescue operation.

Recorder: Microblogging transmits concerns, powers

By 3:00 p.m. of July 24, the message sent by "Sheep in Sheepfold" had been re-published more than 100,000 times and received more than 20,000 comments, and the numbers were still growing. More net friends were joining in the rescue and fighting together with the officers and soldiers from Hangzhou and Ningbo of the Zhejiang Province on the accident site.

During that sleepless night, countless net friends also wrote and re-published many posts containing information on missing persons and kept upgrading the list of passengers and list of the injured.

The "Eastern Morning Daily" wrote on its official microblog that "after the accident occurred, the accident site was extremely chaotic. A lot of passengers already could not find their relatives or friends. Therefore, the media cleared up and published the missing person reports and a partial list of injured passengers being treated in hospitals."

Then, traditional media such as TV and radio stations also successively joined in and started to publish the missing person information so that the families of the passengers could find their lost relatives or friends through more channels.

Xiang Weiyi, a 2-year-old girl, was the last survivor rescued from the accident that killed her parents. Before the train crash, her father Xiang Yu'an had posted a picture of her sitting on the train on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, with the caption saying, "my girl's first long-distance trip." This microblog post has been quickly forwarded more than 190,000 times, and many netizens have commented to express their sympathy and support for the girl.

An Internet user with the screen name of Yanyan Mengyao commented, "Baby, be brave, and live well for your father and mother." Another netizen with the screen name of Mamade-Fen said, "Hang in there, baby. There is still love in this world."

"Our train is tilted, and we are trapped. The first few carriages may have derailed," a passenger trapped on the second bullet train said on her micro-blog. "The last crashed carriage was lifted away from the overhead rail track. The search and rescue work ended," an on-site reporter said in a micro-blog post. Shining a light on life, microblogs have served as a powerful communication channel, and recorded valuable information about this major accident. In the life-and-death moment, many netizens turned to microblogging sites to plead for help, and many moving rescue scenes were posted on the Internet. The netizens were calling on people to save lives.
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