Saturday, May 17, 2008

Update on the Earthquake and EV71

Stories are starting to come out of Sichuan that would bring tears to the eyes of anyone. Some are simply sad, whilst others have the ability to fill you will a renewed sense of hope for humanity (as large-scale disasters often do).

Truly horrific:

Rescuers found Gong in the debris of an Agricultural Bank of China branch in Beichuan County after she had been trapped for 73 hours. They soon found it was impossible to remove the stone from her leg and set her free.

The only way to save Gong was to amputate the leg, the newspaper reported. But surgeons could not do the operation as the space was too small. Rescuers then handed a saw to Gong, who cut off her right leg. -Shanghai Daily
And then the others:
XIANG Xiaolian, a 13-year-old girl, murmured: "The boy clawed me out with his bare hands," as she lay in bed at the No. 1 Hospital affiliated to the West China Medical University.

Xiang was in class at Xuankou Middle School when the 7.8-magnitude quake hit Wenchuan County on Monday.

Xuankou is a boarding school, and more than 1,200 teachers and students fled to the mountains after the quake. How many were killed is not known.

"The whole building swayed as we were in chemistry class - the teacher asked us to run from the third floor classroom," recalled Xiang, who was buried underneath a concrete slab and lost consciousness.

Time passed, and when Xiang re-awakened, she could sense light but fainted again. The next time she awakened, it was dark. "I knew it was night then," she said

"I missed my parents," said Xiang, adding that "I had to see them again before I died." Xiang fell into a coma.

Xiang was awakened by the voice of Ma Jian, her classmate.

"Xiaolian, where are you?" the boy shouted in the open air. "You must hold on," Ma encouraged her as he clawed at the rubble with his hands.

Xiang cried:" Don't leave me, Ma Jian, at least, not until after I die."

"I will not, you are the youngest in our class," Ma replied, digging.

Each time Xiang fell asleep, Ma would call out to her to wake up. After about four hours, Ma freed her. By then, his hands were badly hurt.

They both cried as she was freed, and Ma carried her on his back, out through the school gate. The wall suddenly collapsed.

"If it had been a few minutes later, neither of us would have escaped," said Xiang. -Shanghai Daily
So far, the death toll is at 21,500 people, with very real fears it will reach over 50,000 people. I just cannot fathom that number, especially when day-to-day life in Shanghai is going on much the same as normal.

Here in Shanghai people from all groups in society have been wonderful about donating blankets, clothing and money. Yesterday, a colleague and I were walking through a local market when all of a sudden deafening music began playing through the loudspeakers, and all the shop owners and customers lined up in the main entrance way. Rebecca and I were just about to leave anyway, so we strolled passed them to see what was happening. When we approached the front of the line we stopped and turned around. There was a TV crew, and people were proudly lining up to put 100RMB notes in an elaborately decorated donation box, clearly displaying their generosity for all to see. At this point we felt that we could not just walk out of the mall (seemingly) uncaring, yet neither of us felt comfortable to join the line and have our 'generosity' calculated and deconstructed by all. We ended up skirting the crowds, and sneaking out behind the cameras, getting dirty looks from people in the line- none of whom knew that we had both donated money to the Red Cross the day before... in sealed, anonymous envelopes.

On the other front mentioned in my last post: Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. So far, there are no cases at my school, and I cannot find any more information about the number of cases in Shanghai as all news reports of EV71 ceased when the earthquake struck (reporters are busy covering other stories). We are keeping our fingers crossed that the extra measures the school is taking will hold away the virus, though there is absolutely no guarantee of that. In the meantime, 10 out of my 17 students have been off sick with a nasty flu, and with only 7 students it has seemed like somewhat of a holiday.

"Soldiers from the People's Liberation Army try to move a huge block of concrete in a bid to rescue people trapped in Pengzhou, Sichuan Province, yesterday. Tens of thousands of troops have begun rescue and relief work in quake-hit areas." -Shanghai Daily


Sharpie said...

Unimaginable. And heart breaking.

Karrine said...

Oh my heart is breaking reading about this.