Chinese peacekeepers in Haiti see off dead colleagues

08:43, January 20, 2010      

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Shedding tears and choking with sobs, Wang Xueyan, a Chinese peacekeeper farewelled the bodies of her eight colleagues killed in Haiti earthquake as they arrived home on Monday.

Wang was watching a live broadcast of a homecoming ceremony for the dead Chinese peacekeepers in Beijing in a warehouse-made-dormitory where she and other peacekeeping anti-riot police stay in Haiti.

Were not the major quake, Monday should be the day of a medal-awarding ceremony scheduled for members of China's 8th peacekeeping anti-riot team. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a tragic farewell ceremony.

During the days of rescue, Wang has helped save five people with her bare hands after the deadly earthquake savaged the Haitian capital. One of the survivors she rescued is now a guide for the UN peacekeeping mission.

At the moment when soldiers were carrying the coffins of the eight peacekeeping police officers at the airport in Beijing, all peacekeepers in Haiti stood up in front of televisions and took off their caps.

Zhao Huayu, 38, captain of the Chinese civilian police who worked with Wang in the same unit in Haiti, was among the victims. Watching the picture of Zhao, Wang could not help weeping and told Xinhua that Zhao phoned her on his way to the five-story UN Haiti headquarters that collapsed during the earthquake last Tuesday.

"That perhaps was the last phone call he made in his life," Wang said.

Zhao's successor, Li Xu, choked and said, "I want to tell the eight buddies that we are going to fulfill your will and continue the work you left off."

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a country that has yet to establish diplomatic ties with China, the Chinese government announced emergency humanitarian aid worth millions of U.S. dollars.

China also dispatched a rescue team of about 60 people to Port-Au-Prince. The team has found a number of bodies, including those of the eight Chinese peacekeepers, UN officers in Haiti and some others.

The Chinese rescue team has also given medical treatment to about 200 local people in a temporary clinic set up near the Haitian prime minister's compound.

More than 1,500 Chinese peacekeepers have been dispatched to seven countries and regions since 2000, according to Chinese officials.

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