HERO­ISM IN LAND­SLIDE SAVES LIVES

13 res­cued, but 20 still miss­ing in Zhe­jiang tragedy

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By SHI XI­AOFENG in Suichang, Zhe­jiang and ZHANG ZHI­HAO in Bei­jing Con­tact the writer at shixf@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The body of a fe­male vic­tim was re­trieved by res­cuers af­ter a rain-trig­gered land­slide hit a vil­lage in East China’s Zhe­jiang province, au­thor­i­ties said on Thurs­day.

Later, the bod­ies of a child of 6 or 7 years of age and an el­derly per­son were re­cov­ered as res­cuers raced against time to dig out sur­vivors.

As of Thurs­day evening, 13 peo­ple had been res­cued and about 20 were miss­ing af­ter the land­slide caused by Ty­phoon Megi hit Su­cun vil­lage in Lishui at about 5:30 pm on Wed­nes­day, the lo­cal govern­ment said.

A Su­cun vil­lager sur­named Zhan, who is 25 and seven months preg­nant, was hav­ing din­ner with her fam­ily when the land­slide slammed into her house and swal­lowed her daugh­ter and par­ents-in-law.

Lin Jux­i­ang, 72, was helping her 78-year-old hus­band, whose right foot was in­jured, limp to­ward safety. Then Lin sud­denly heard her neigh­bor Zhan’s cry for help.

“You are hurt and can’t help,” Lin told her hus­band. “You be safe. I will meet you af­ter I save her.” She used a bam­boo stick to reach out to Zhan and pulled her to safety.

Zhan’s left leg was frac­tured, so Lin be­came her crutch. As they were flee­ing, Lin saw the mud­slide com­ing to­ward them, so they climbed to safety atop a large boul­der. Two hours later, the res­cue team found them neck deep in mud and water.

“I was go­ing to save her. If I had just one breath left, I would still save her,” Lin said.

Af­ter be­ing re­united with her hus­band at the hos­pi­tal in Suichang county, Zhan went to the in­ten­sive care unit, while Lin rested in a hos­pi­tal bed. They were in sta­ble con­di­tion on Thurs­day.

Zhan and her hus­band and Lin were among the 13 peo­ple res­cued from the land­slide, which buried 20 houses and flooded 17 oth­ers with about 400,000 cu­bic me­ters of de­bris.

Among the miss­ing was a town­ship cadre who was helping vil­lagers re­lo­cate, said Zhou Ruichen, the deputy county mayor.

Vil­lager Zheng Quan­wei, 56, who was hav­ing din­ner about 200 me­ters away from the scene, said: “I heard a loud noise and rushed out­side. It was get­ting dark, but I could see some col­lapsed houses on the hill­side. I couldn’t help but burst into tears.”

Vil­lager Su Guo­hong, 58, fled in such a hurry that he lost one of his shoes. “The rocks were flow­ing down like water. The road split in front of me,” he said.

Pan Zhaox­i­ang aban­doned her house­work and ran up the moun­tain with a group of peo­ple. They didn’t dare to come down un­til 7:30 pm on Wed­nes­day.

“When I left my home, I saw two cars be­ing washed into the river. Some peo­ple were shout­ing ‘Help!’ I am still so scared now,” she said.

The lo­cal govern­ment is­sued the high­est-level en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard re­sponse im­me­di­ately af­ter the land­slide. By Thurs­day, 1,200 res­cuers from 10 spe­cial dis­as­ter re­lief groups had joined the res­cue ef­fort to per­form a range of du­ties, from op­er­at­ing ex­ca­va­tors to de­liv­er­ing sup­plies, the lo­cal govern­ment said.

“Life is paramount, ev­ery sec­ond counts,” the Suichang county govern­ment said on its web­site. More than 1,460 lo­cal res­i­dents had been re­lo­cated to safer ar­eas as of Thurs­day morn­ing.

At the site of the dis­as­ter, rocks con­tin­ued to tum­ble down the moun­tain, cre­at­ing bar­rier lakes.

More than 100 peo­ple were re­set­tled in a tem­po­rary re­lo­ca­tion site in a nearby vil­lage. Many vil­lagers from Su­cun are el­ders whose chil­dren are study­ing or work­ing in cities.

By Thurs­day, Ty­phoon Megi had swept through 97 coun­ties in Fu­jian, Zhe­jiang and Jiangxi prov­inces, forc­ing 590,000 peo­ple to re­lo­cate and caus­ing 2.6 bil­lion yuan ($390 mil­lion) in direct eco­nomic losses, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs.

The ty­phoon weak­ened into a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion as it went deeper into China. How­ever, Ty­phoon Chaba was en route to East Asia and may hit China and Ja­pan in the next week, the China Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion said. Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story.

Life is paramount, ev­ery sec­ond counts.” Suichang county govern­ment web­site

CHINA DAILY LIN YUN­LONG / FOR

Res­cuers and a snif­fer dog search for sur­vivors at the land­slide site in Suichang county, Zhe­jiang province, on Thurs­day.

CHINA DAILY DONG XUM­ING / FOR

Su­cun Vil­lage was hard hit by a land­slide at 5:30 pm on Wed­nes­day. Thir­teen peo­ple have been res­cued, three were con­firmed dead and about 20 were still miss­ing as of Thurs­day evening.

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