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English>>China Society

Quake turns construction worker into rescuer

By  GUO ANFEI in Yiliang, Yunnan and WANG XIAODONG in Beijing  (China Daily)

08:31, September 12, 2012

A mother and her child in a tent at a relocation site in Yiliang,Yunnan province, on Tuesday.(CHINA DAILY/WEI XIAOHAO)

Zhou Litang was at a meeting on Friday morning in Yiliang county when the earthquake struck.

"The floor suddenly shook violently and everything was moving. All of us realized an earthquake had hit."

Zhou quickly ran outside and called his wife. After assuring himself his family, who live in the urban area of the county, were OK, he made the decision to drive to the worst hit area and repair the road so rescuers could get through.

"Although I survived the earthquakes I realized there must be many sufferers in those isolated mountainous areas," Zhou said. "I immediately called my colleagues and they all agreed. We cannot just stand by and see people in our hometown suffer."

Less than two hours after the first earthquake, Zhou, who heads a construction team at Yongjia Construction Company in Yiliang, Yunnan, started the journey with about 30 of his team members and three vehicles including a digger. However, they made slow progress.

"As we were driving to Luozehe township, the hardest hit area, we had to stop frequently to clear the big rocks and mud scattered on the roads, and rocks kept falling from the slope beside the road."

As a result, the journey, which usually takes half an hour, took two hours.

"When we arrived at Shuinichang village, we found we were the first rescuers in the area, and soldiers and medical teams had not yet arrived," Zhou said.

"We saw big rocks blocking the road, and rocks were still falling from the slopes. Most houses in the village had collapsed or were seriously damaged," he said.

Several bodies were lying on the ground, and many villagers were gathering in the open area. Some were weeping, he said.

"I felt very sad, but also a little scared," Zhou said. "Mobile signals were all gone, and I couldn't help thinking what we would do if anything happened to us."

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