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Cosmeticians help train crash victims leave with dignity

Updated: 2011-08-02 17:26


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WENZHOU - The 52-year-old Xu Kangfei was scrupulously combing the messy hair of a young woman, who was lying on the mortuary slab with a serene expression on her face.

"I want to make it as neat as shown on her photo - she has beautiful pitch-black long hair," said Xu, a mortuary cosmetician who is responsible for cleaning, embalming and putting make-up on the bodies of the victims of last Saturday's high-speed train collision before cremation.

The woman, Mu Linan, was a stewardness on train D301, which rammed into train D3115 near Wenzhou in east Zhejiang Province.

Xu tenderly cleaned her wounds on the body and head, and then applied foundation and blush on her face.

"It's the ultimate respect to the deceased and the ultimate comfort for their families," Xu said. "No matter how difficult it is, we are trying our best to satisfy all."

With 27 years of professional experience, Xu was still overwhelmed when he saw the decomposed bodies of the train crash victims for the first time. His apprentice, 21-year-old Ji Shuohong, nearly passed out.

"I can't imagine how horrifying the situation was," he said, adding that major repair efforts were made to several badly damaged bodies.

Since last Monday, Xu, his apprentice and two other cosmeticians have been working in the Wenzhou Funeral Home.

The most complicated part is to restore the shape of head and facial features of those who suffered devastating injuries.

On Thursday, they spent a whole day repairing the head wounds of a 16-year-old boy in accordance with the photo provided by his parents.

When their job was done, the parents stared at the boy for a while, and then put a coin-filled piggy bank beside his body.

"Besides the major injuries, even a slight scratch must also be carefully dealt with," Xu said.

A family of three killed in the crash impressed the cosmeticians most.

"When their bodies were discovered in a crushed carriage, rescuers found the father still tightly embracing his son. Their bodies were only parted after being taken to the funeral home," Xu said.

"I dressed the four-year-old boy in a red sport suit, once his best clothes. I also put blush on his face to make him look healthy," he said.

The train crash left 40 dead and 191 others injured.

"They must have suffered great pains when the accident happened," Xu said, recalling that his young apprentice once wept for the losses of lives.

It saddened her that some victims were so young that they had not enjoyed their lives, while the older ones were supposed to spend their twilight years in peace.

"I told her that the most we can do is to fulfill our duty, and help the deceased leave with dignity," Xu said.


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