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Earthquake Diary
Eyewitness Report through the Lens

8 February 2009

This is the most amazing eyewitness account of a huge event that involves a natural disaster occurred only once in every 3,000 years, according to many Chinese scientists, or in every 10,000 years, according to some overseas researchers. Through his camera lens, the author, known as 新洋, an ordinary young man with an extraordinary compassion living in the province where the earthquake happened, recorded and reported, and is still recording and reporting to this very day, the horrific catastrophe and incredible human response. The following are the images edited from some of his photos and English translation of the related notes. The original photos and Chinese text can be viewed in full at "".

13 May 2008 (the nest day of the 5.12 earthquake):

I just flew from Lhasa (拉萨) to Chengdu (成都, the capital city of Sichuan Province) today and heard the news of yesterday's deadly earthquake. Without taking a break, I jumped into my car and hit the road towards Mianzhu (棉竹). When I arrived here, I was told Premier Wen Jiabao had already inspected the damage in this area and just left for Beijing 30 minutes ago.

Large scale rescue operations are yet to take place. At the moment, dead bodies scatter along the roadsides, and survivors are searching for loved ones through the wreckages.

"I fled home, but my dad has been trapped inside," a girl cries. "Please help me to find my dad!"

A small rescue team follows her lead to look for her father.

Relief centres have been quickly set up, but as refugees keep coming, several families with up to a double people have to squeeze into a single tent.

With communication services no longer available and police are not in presence, people have to inquire each tent to locate their surviving family members and relatives.

14 May 2008 (the third day of the 5.12 earthquake):

It keeps raining. The survivors urgently need clear water, food and medicine.

Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered the army to send these vital items to the earthquake zoom without any delay.

Private citizens also answer the call of the Premier and flock to the disaster areas with donated goods.

15 May 2008 (the fourth day of the 5.12 earthquake)

At a village I see a woman sitting among the wreckage weeping. "I lost everything in my life; even the trousers I wear are borrowed form others." But when I intend to get off my vehicle to help her, she declines my offer firmly. "Don't worry about me, please go to Qingping," she urges. "The entire rural district has been buried under fallen earth."

On my way to Qingping I meet another woman who holds my hand crying. "I was working in the field with my in-laws, my 6-year old was sleeping at a kindergarten when earthquake happened, and my child was buried under wreckage.

In a village near Qingping, Old Li shows me the wreckage of his neighbour's house next to his, "Yesterday afternoon I dug out the bodies of my old neighbour and his daughter-in-law, and carried them on my back to a grave and buried them properly." He smiles wryly. "I'm older than him and we had made an agreement that one day when I die he would bury me. I didn't expect that in the end it would be me to bury him."

Soon I spot some survivors fleeing from Qingping. They spent days to negotiate treacherous mountain terrain where the water in shallow rivers flooded to reach their neck, and stones kept falling onto their path.

Among the refugees there are Mr Wang and his wife. "We just bought a new television set, and marinated dozens of kilos of pork meat, but we have to give up all of them. Had we stayed in Qingping, we'll starve to death for sure," says Old Wang.

2, The Rescue Efforts
3, The Tentative Recovery
4, The Support
5, The Chinese Army
6, The Reflection
7, The Hope
8, The United Efforts

Prev: A Chinese Man's Struggle (6)
Next: Earthquake Diary (2)


5.12 Earthquake

The time: 2.28pm, 12 May 2008

The rating: 8 on the Richter scale.

The centre: Wenchuan County in Sichuan province

The death toll: 69,107

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