Local leader too busy to mourn lost family members
Although eight of his family members died in the magnitude-6.5 earthquake on Sunday, Tang Zhengyun doesn’t have time to grieve or even attend their funerals.
The Longquan community, one of the largest in heavily damaged Longtoushan township, suffered heavy casualties. More than 200 people there died in the earthquake, and more than 4,000 survivors need help.
Tang, Party chief of the community, is in charge of distributing relief supplies brought in to the area by helicopters.
Helicopters can carry only about 900 kg of supplies, including water and instant noodles, and many people line up for the emergency rations.
To avoid wasting limited supplies, he has ordered that the food and water be distributed only immediately before dinnertime. Each resident is restricted to one bottle of water and one bowl of noodles per meal.
While he was busy working, Tang, who has slept less than five hours a day since the earthquake, can temporarily forget the grief of losing his relatives.
When the earthquake hit, Tang and some villagers were building a bridge to reconnect the mountainous community, which had been cut off by a landslide on July 17. Tang and his colleagues rescued 17 villagers from the rubble shortly thereafter, but he was unable to help cousins and great-nephews who lived on a remote street. quake-hit city of Zhaotong, the team members were nearly killed when the magnitude-6.5 earthquake hit the mountainous area Sunday afternoon.
Because the city’s first junior soccer game was scheduled to begin on Monday, the coach, driving his own car, arrived at the city with four of the team members, ahead of the other boys.
As it made its way along a mountainous road to the city, the bus carrying the remaining 14 boys and a teacher was hit by the earthquake and was soon half-buried in rocks and mud that had fallen from the mountain.
Fortunately, the bus was not destroyed and the boys managed to find a way out, with some receiving only slight injuries.
Soon after they escaped from the site, the bus was destroyed by falling rocks.
As they could not find another bus to arrive in the city on time, they could have given up on making it to the game. But they decided to finish the trip on foot.
“Along the way, we saw many crashed vehicles and bodies,” said Zhang Hua, the teacher.
After a five- hour trek along the roughly 20-kmlong mountain road, they arrived at Xiaozhai township of Ludian county at about 9:30 pm. With the help of the local government, which provided them another bus, the team finally arrived at Zhaotong around midnight.
The next morning marked the beginning of the games. As the Qiaojia team had been scheduled to compete in the opening game, the referee committee asked them whether they needed to postpone the game, but the young men refused.
As brave as these players were, psychological counseling was arranged for them on Monday by the organizers of the games after the team lost its first game.
The next two games brought the boys no good news. However, the Zhaotong sports authority said it had prepared a special prize for the team, to honor the sportsmanship displayed by the boys.