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Troops risk their own lives in quake rescue

(China Daily)

13:28, September 14, 2012

Yu Yang (right), a senior colonel in the People's Liberation Army, leads soldiers in rescue work in Yiliang, Yunnan province. (Photo from China Daily)

The devastation and heavy casualties in earthquake zones stir everyone's emotions, even rescuers working round-the-clock to save lives.

For Senior Colonel Yu Yang, who led more than 200 troops in Yunnan province into the hardest-hit area, the pain was compounded by the death of his father.

Yu received a call from his brother in Jiangsu province as his unit left Luozehe township, in Yunnan, which had been struck by two earthquakes on Friday, killing 81 people.

"My father has gone too soon. How I wish he could see me return home after the rescue mission is completed," said Yu, the commander of a People's Liberation Army infantry reserve unit.

Yu could not return for his father's funeral because his and another unit were sent to a different village to search for survivors.

Yu and his troops are among thousands of PLA soldiers serving as rescuers after magnitude-5.6 and magnitude-5.7 earthquakes thrashed Yiliang county.

More than 7,000 rescuers, including doctors and officials in Yunnan, and 4,000 soldiers stationed in nearby Sichuan province were sent to Yiliang soon after the earthquakes, according to local authorities.

PLA forces have been a key part of rescue and relief efforts after disasters in China.

Three days after a magnitude-7.1 earthquake in Yushu, Northwest China's Qinghai province, which killed more than 2,600 people in 2010, more than 7,000 PLA soldiers were deployed as rescuers.

When a magnitude-8 earthquake battered Wenchuan, Sichuan, in 2008, leaving more than 80,000 people dead or missing, some 150,000 PLA soldiers and armed police forces were mobilized to aid the rescue efforts.

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