The story appears on

Page C4

January 26, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

China's heroes search in rubble

WANG Mingxin, a doctor with the Chinese rescue team in Haiti, has witnessed the destruction and rescue efforts in the Haitian capital, which was hit by a devastated magnitude-7.3 earthquake on January 12.

Here are excerpts from his diary:

January 14 (Thursday) Overcast

We were briefed soon after our arrival in Port-au-Prince at 2:20am.

Building collapses are common in the city, where weak hollow bricks are used as building blocks; the collapse of prisons has scattered many of the inmates onto streets; eight Chinese nationals working for the UN mission in Haiti are unaccounted for and are believed to have been buried in the rubble.

While other Chinese rescuers are setting up a field command in tents, a few of us rushed to the UN Stabilization Mission HQ, where we met colleagues from a US rescue team that had arrived half an hour earlier.

The American rescuers have found a survivor in the UN building but have located no other sign of life there.

As we waited for the arrival of special rescue equipment, we inspected the UN building, which had seven stories above ground and another three stories below. The stories from the third floor up have all collapsed.

The Chinese staffers working at the UN mission were believed to have been on the fourth floor when the earthquake struck.

Forty-eight hours have elapsed since the quake, and so has the chance of finding more survivors in the building.

But the rescue operation chief has decided: find them all, alive or dead, and bring them home.

Our way down to those buried in the debris is from the roof of the collapsed building.

As a doctor with the rescue squad, I was assigned to work in a mobile clinic in front of the Haitian prime minister's office.

Once the Haitians seeking refuge in the open gardens near the prime minister's office saw the clinic, they swarmed to us, seeking treatment for mostly external wounds and bone fractures.

Ninety-five percent of the wounds are festering, some of which may cause permanent damage and may even turn out to be fatal.

We immediately started treating these people with whatever we had at the time.

By 5:30pm, when we had to return to our field command to replenish medicine and medical equipment, we had treated more than 100 people.

January 15 (Friday) Sunny

At 4am, I was awakened by a series of dynamic shakes, which I soon realized as aftershocks that I am getting used to.

The doctors were split up to work at the mobile clinic and at the UN headquarters.

Yesterday's work made us welcome and popular in front of the prime minister's office, where more people gathered for treatment. Our working efficiency has increased after the prime minister's office found several English-speaking volunteers to help us as interpreters.

Our major task is cleaning the wounds of sand and dirt and distributing antibiotics to stop festering.

In order to prevent an epidemic outbreak that usually accompanies earthquakes, we have started to disinfect those who have come for treatment.

January 16 (Saturday) Sunny

I woke up at around 4am again, but to the blinding beam from a flashlight. I only heard a terse call: "All up and group."

As we were all standing at attention in our field command, we got confirmation of our fears: The remains of one of the missing Chinese UN mission staffers were arriving.

I rushed back to the medical tent for necessary equipment and medicine.

Amid solemn salutes, we doctors transferred the remains from the ambulance to a freezer van.

More remains of the missing Chinese UN staffers were found and sent to us, and we worked non-stop to treat and get them ready for their final flight back home.

When we went to work at the mobile clinic that day, the wife of the Haitian prime minister came to thank us in person. She spoke highly of our work at the clinic.

We have decided, apart from our routine medical treatment, to increase disinfection in refugee centers and camps as prevention against potential epidemic outbreaks.

January 17 (Sunday) Sunny

It was 4am again when I awoke to strong aftershocks, which did not bother us much as they used to.

After daybreak, we learned that we were seeing off the remains of the eight Chinese UN staffers at the airport, where a Chinese flight has just brought in US$2 million in aid - food, drinking water, medicine and medical equipment.

At 8am, we gathered in front of the field command to pay our last respects to the departing remains of those who had come to work for the UN peacemaking and peacekeeping mission and lost their lives to it.

Many of us wept when the refrigerated vans left the field command for the airport.

We cried because among the deceased there was a father who had never met his newborn baby; there was a mother who had been away from her child for a long time; and there were husbands who had been away from wives and their kids.

"Have a peaceful trip back home."

That is what we can say to bid farewell to our eight compatriots who will be remembered not only by the Chinese, but also by the Haitians and the peace-loving people around the world for what they had devoted their lives to.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend