Lo­cal leader too busy to mourn lost fam­ily mem­bers

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA -

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.

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