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China's post-quake babies carry memory of event in names
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08:09, May 04, 2009

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Yang Chao, a 29-year-old Qiang ethnic from Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the quake that devastated southwest China almost a year ago, has given the event a permanent place in his family's life.

He named his twin daughters, born six weeks after the quake, using "Zhen", the Chinese character for earthquake. Their three-character names are Yang Zhenling and Yang Zhenxi.

"The last characters of both names, taken together, mean good and beautiful, while the middle character 'Zhen' will always remind them of that disaster," Yang said.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 last year left 87,000 people dead or missing. In Wenchuan, a county in north Sichuan Province with an original population of 100,000, about 20 percent of the residents were killed or are still classified as missing.

Yang Chao's wife, a nurse in a local township hospital, wasn't injured. But she was more than five months pregnant then, and her distress over the disaster was affecting her pregnancy.

Two weeks later, she was transported by helicopter to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, with other patients and expectant mothers.

On June 25, she gave birth to the twins, more than a month ahead of her due date. The first time that Yang Chao saw his babies was 15 days later, as the premature infants were put into incubators.

"Despite the twists and turns, my daughters are very lucky, compared with those killed or crippled in the quake," Yang said, hanging his head.

"I hope these names bring them not sorrow, but an active and enterprising life attitude. I hope they can cherish life and everything around them," he said. "I also hope to show my remembrance of the quake victims this way."

Liao Kang, who is in charge of household registration in Wenchuan's public security bureau, told Xinhua that among the 590 newborns registered after the earthquake, almost 50 have "Zhen" in their names, and many more have names using homonyms.

"Also, there are more babies named 'Chuan', the latter character for the quake's epicenter Wenchuan. The parents must hope that their children will remember the place and the disaster," Liao said.

Wu Lijuan, an obstetrician at the county's only hospital that was still able to deliver babies after the quake, said more than 700 babies were born in temporary housing over the past year, and many got names relevant to the earthquake.

"Especially among those born between May and July last year, many have quake-related names. There are more boys named 'Zhen' than girls," Wu said.

"The earthquake has brought us grief, but also let us see the good side of life. When facing disaster, most people unite and help others without a bit of selfishness.

"I think these parents also hope that their children can remember this principle and the extraordinary start to what will probably be an otherwise ordinary life," she said.


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