Homepage > News > China > 

Yushu survivor's story of volunteering in quake relief

2010-04-19 14:45 BJT

Special Report: 7.1-magnitude Quake Hit Qinghai, China |

YUSHU, Qinghai, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Parched lips, exhausted with a fever, Gao Shuyou continues to volunteer his help in Yushu quake relief. Visiting the area as tourist when the quake hit, Gao has been helping for five days straight.

Aerial image taken on April 16, 2010 shows the quake-hit Yushu County, northwest China's Qinghai Province. The death toll from Wednesday's devastating earthquake reached 1,706 on Sunday. (Xinhua/Gou Baogang)
Aerial image taken on April 16, 2010 shows the quake-hit Yushu County, northwest 
China's Qinghai Province. The death toll from Wednesday's devastating earthquake 
reached 1,706 on Sunday. (Xinhua/Gou Baogang)

"I had a fever last night and got an intravenous drip," said Gao who has slept under the stars for three nights before getting a tent Saturday.

"At first I wanted to get out of here, but I just could not leave those in need," said Gao who was born in northeast China's Jilin Province and currently works in Macao.

Gao and his friend Chen Yunfei came to Gyegu town of Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu on a sightseeing tour on April 13, a tour they never thought would be so life-altering.

"When the earthquake struck on Wednesday, we ran out of our hotel into the dusty streets as houses collapsed, people were yelling, dogs barking," Gao recalled.

Feeling fortunate to be alive, Gao and Chen climbed onto collapsed houses and dug with their bare hands in search of the buried.

Many locals were Tibetan and "although I don't speak their language, their eyes showed how grateful they were for our help," said Gao.

Gao and Chen first pulled a couple out of the debris, but they did not survive. Then they dug out a mother and her baby, both of the Hui ethnic group.

"The baby survived but the mother died. We tried artificial respiration but she still didn't make it. It felt so bad seeing people die," Gao said.

Feeling what they could do on their own was limited, Gao and Chen approached the Yushu Prefecture Committee of Chinese Communist Youth League and officially enrolled as volunteers.

Now Gao works to recruit and organize other volunteers. "As of Sunday morning, about 400 volunteers had joined us coming from all over China," Gao said.

"You can tell volunteers by the red strips pinned to their clothes or tied around their arms. Volunteers do whatever is needed, such as searching for survivors, transporting the injured, collecting garbage," said Gao.

Since all the stores and restaurants are closed because of the quake, Gao has had nothing to eat but ship biscuits, instant noodles and bottled water.

After toiling for five days without proper food and good rest, Gao was weak but continues to help. "I was lucky that I survived and now it's time for me to give something back by helping those in need," he said.

A 7.1-magnitude quake struck the Yushu Prefecture Wednesday. At least 1,706 were killed, and 12,128 others were injured, according to Sunday's official tally.

Made of wood and mud, most houses in the area collapsed or were on the verge of collapse after the quake.

Tens of thousands of people need to be relocated.

Since Wednesday, thousands of soldiers and officers, armed police, medical workers and other trained rescuers have been working in the quake zone.

Editor: Jin Lin | Source: Xinhua