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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Rebuilding houses, families and hope

By Liu Xiangrui and Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

08:38, March 22, 2012

New homes, babies and opportunities are transforming the Wenchuan quake zone. Liu Xiangrui and Huang Zhiling report in Yingxiu, Beichuan and Qingchuan in Sichuan.

To the rescue, again and again

Yang Yunqing is often invited to pose for group photos in front of his Epicenter Restaurant in the Sichuan quake zone.

The eatery's name isn't the only reference to how its history and that of its 63-year-old founder relate to the 8.0-magnitude temblor that left 90,000 dead or missing in 2008.

The walls are covered with photos snapped by a news photographer of Yang dashing among ruins in Wenchuan county's Yingxiu town, pulling children out of the rubble. These images made Yang a celebrity when they appeared in the news.

It was a turning point in Yang's life, he says.

He has given up his previous occupation as a crane operator to join the local firefighting team - things he never imagined he would do. But it's his outlook on life that has transformed the most, he says.

Yang sometimes returns to those days in his dreams or when he's alone. "Sometimes, those scenes play in front of my eyes," he says. "I remember what the children looked like when they were saved - or weren't."

Yang and his youngest son, who also operated cranes, volunteered to help with the rescue and used their cranes to lift the larger parts of collapsed buildings.

Yang pulled two students to safety and assisted firefighters to rescue another 10 at the collapsed Yingxiu Primary School, which was right next to his house. Hundreds of students were buried when the school buckled.

Yang recalls the principal begging him: "Save my students!" He told her to calm down and count the children.

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