County offers its best in the face of disaster
Updated: 2012-09-11 03:40
By Xu Wei (China Daily)
In the past four days Yiliang county, the beautiful mountainous region in Yunnan province, has gone from relative obscurity to making headlines across China and around the world.
But the nature of the sudden fame is anything but wanted. A series of earthquakes hit the area on Friday, claiming 81 lives.
Although the earth movement seems to have stopped, the county is still at the mercy of nature.
Yiliang is a mountainous region, and the beautiful scenery used to be the pride of the county.
But since the quake, the mountains are suddenly dangerous. Many of the county's villages on, or at the foot of, the mountains are now at risk of being destroyed by landslides.
Rescuers racing against the clock to help villagers are also risking their own lives, with the threat of mudslides remaining ever present.
But that is not the end of the pain for the county.
The packed vehicles on the streets and the difficulty in finding a hotel room are clear indicators that this county is far from ready to receive such a large number of rescuers and volunteers — and reporters, I being one of them.
However, the scene led me to recall a comment made in 2004 by former Indian Prime Minster Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"A calamity unites humanity. Adversity makes ordinary individuals perform extraordinary feats. Transcending differences and overcoming distances of all kinds, people rush to help one another."
It was a tough trip from the urban area of the county to its quake-hit villages. Broken vehicles, dead pigs and falling rocks added to the hardships that many veteran rescuers said they had not previously experienced.
Here in Yiliang, we all become geologists.
Before passing a hill, we look up to observe the condition of the hill before reaching the conclusion that it is safe from mudslides. Then we drive or run as quickly as possible to pass it.
That meticulousness is not overdone.There are real dangers on roads such as falling rocks.
But there are always people who dare to brave these dangers to offer help.
At a stretch of road underneath a mountain where rocks are falling, a policewoman, who is too busy to grant us an interview, is standing on duty to caution vehicles as they pass.
A primary school teacher risked his life to rescue seven pupils from debris.
I thought I would not be able to get anything to fill my stomach as I walked through streets filled with debris at around 2 pm.
However, it was not long before I noticed a place with some residents gathered. The owner of a ramen shop was using her cooking pot to offer free hot water and instant noodles to those in need.
I asked two drivers for rides away from the quake-hit area and both agreed to take me. Other reporters also had similar requests accepted, all for free.
People everywhere are inexplicably patient when you ask for directions.
My experience in the past two days has shown me this: in the face of the worst disaster in its history, the unnoticed little town has realized it has the chance to offer the best of itself.