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Indonesian doctors recall China's emergency response ahead of Wenchuan quake anniversary
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09:25, May 07, 2009

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Indonesian doctors, who were in China's Sichuan province on disaster-relief mission after the devastating earthquake on May 12 last year, were once again touched when recalling the experience in the stricken areas.

They also expressed their admiration for the Chinese government and people who made things easier for them to conduct humanitarian aid despite language obstacle.

The doctors were placed in Wenxian County, in northwestern Gansu province, several kilometers from Beichuan, the earthquake epicenter.

"We experienced a touching moment when we saw several poor families whose houses collapsed in the disaster. Spontaneously, we gathered some money for them," recalled Dr. Ben Rimba, the Indonesia's coordinating doctors on the mission told Xinhua on an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

The doctors could only gather 10,000 yuan for several families, a small number compared to the survivals’ losses.

"A day after we donated the money, they came to our posts on seven trucks and brought some placards and street banners written how they thanked me very much."

"It was the most touching moment I ever saw," he said, adding that the moment was covered by local television.

He said that their language limitation did not derail them to express their gratitude.

"That time I realized that human, no matter their races, languages, and countries, are the same. Their body language showed millions of gratitude," he said.

Dr. Riyadh Firdaus, another doctor, said that they were so amazed by their hospitality and warm welcome while they were on grieve.

He said that he was very touched by the Chinese people's grieve, especially by parents who lost their children.

"However, they welcomed us warmly and facilitate us as best as they could," he said.

Dr. Lucky Cahyono, the Health Ministry's Emergency Response Chief, said the Chinese government's welcoming ceremony to foreign volunteers were well-organized.

"They organized all preparations to welcoming ceremony well," he said.

That was not all. The government managed to evacuate all survivals to the nearest hospitals on the third day after the shock.

"It is a permanent procedure and they could fulfill it," he said.

Djujur Hutagalung, the former Chairman of Foreign Ministry's Education, Social and Culture for China, said that the Chinese government's ability to construct roads made easier for them to reach the disaster area.

"They built hundreds of kilometers to the remote areas. You know, the Chinese government always say that roads are their infrastructure to reach regions that need support from the central government," he said.

He recalled that 12 hours after the devastating quake, the government's aids were in the disaster location.

"That was very fast response I think," he said.

Dr. Ben said that actually the Chinese government did not need foreign assistance to handle the victims. "I think they could handle it by themselves. They just appreciated foreign aids," he said.

Following the deadliest earthquake in the decades, many buildings collapsed, roads were damaged and aftershocks threatened. Many tents were built in fields because medical teams worried that hospitals that still existed could collapse any time by aftershocks.

Riyadh said many houses in Wenxian collapsed, while in cities cracks colored buildings, threatening people below them if aftershocks occurred.

"We didn't want to take a risk. Can you imagine those hospitals collapsed while we were treating injured people," he said.

Wenxian was not the earthquake epicenter but the devastation level was so heavy.

"Imagine the condition in Sichuan, the quake's epicenter," he said.

When he took a walk around the area, he was very sad seeing the people's faith. "But I think they were strong enough to handle their grief. After all, all things have a bright side," he said.


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