Role models feted for putting their lives on the line
A group of 17 people, including three naval technology experts who died while trying to save an experimental floating platform as typhoon Rumbia hit Dalian, Liaoning province, on Aug 20, were awarded the title of “role models of our time” on Friday.
The title was given by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
The experimental platform, a core piece of equipment for China’s naval scientific research and warship technologies development, belongs to the No 760 Institute of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, where the group works.
The CSIC held a minute’s silence on Aug 21 for the three deceased — Huang Qun, Song Yuecai and Jiang Kaibin — and called on its staff to learn from their bravery, sense of responsibility and fearlessness of sacrifice.
On Aug 26, President Xi Jinping praised the three and said their brave deeds expressed the outstanding characters of Party members: loyalty to the Party, sense of responsibility and fearlessness when facing sacrifice.
Xi said they had fulfilled their vows of being “ready to sacrifice for the Party and the people” with their lives, and they are outstanding representatives of the Party and role models of our time.
On Aug 20, cables on the platform snapped due to heavy rain and big gales brought by the typhoon, and the platform swayed precariously with the huge waves, threatening the lives of four security staff onboard.
Huang Qun, the institute’s deputy director, Song Yuecai, chief scientist of the experimental program, and Jiang Kaibin, chief electromechanical engineer, put on life jackets, carried backup cables on their shoulder and rushed to the pier, followed by nine other staff.
The distance was no more than 100 meters, but it took them over 10 minutes to reach the pier. The rain and seawater that kept slamming their faces cut like a knife, and they had to tie one another to a cable to prevent themselves from being swept away by the waves.
They started fastening the ropes and stabilizing the cables as soon as they reached the dock. Knocked down by the waves occasionally, they scrambled up on their feet and continued working.
These were no young men. Huang was 51, Song and Jiang were 61. Their energy might have failed them but they only cared about the lives of their colleagues and the safety of the crucial equipment.
The platform became steadier and the life-threatening danger dwindled when cables were fastened. Just when everything began to appear under control, Huang and Jiang, who were at the edge of the dock, were swept into the roaring water.
It was about a 3-meter fall from the dock. Huang and Jiang were pushed back and forth by the waves between the concrete wall of the dock and the steel of the platform. Other staff threw ropes into the sea trying to pull them up but failed.
A technician named Huang Chaofu then jumped straight into the water trying to reach Jiang, but huge waves kept them apart, and worse, knocked three more people from the dock.
To prevent more people from falling into the sea, Song urged the rest to evacuate immediately and call for support.
He was the last to leave to make sure the safety of others, and was overwhelmed by another wave.
Meanwhile, the four onboard the platform never stopped their rescue work. They managed to pull Huang Chaofu up, and together they rescued another two — Jia Lingjun and Dong Jiang. Another technician, Yan Kun, jumped into the sea with a life buoy and saved one colleague, Sun Xun.
Rescue teams came to help and managed to pull Huang, Song and Jiang from the water, but medics could not bring them back to life.
Photos of the group of 17 people from the No 760 Institute of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation are introduced by an anchor at China Central Television.