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May 15, 2021

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Earthquake hero’s message of thanks from Israel

THIRTEEN years after rescuing an Israeli woman from a Chinese earthquake, Jiang Wei says his decision to help was the natural thing to do. Even so, he was glad to meet with Maayan Sebbag via video link on Tuesday, humbly accepting her heartfelt thanks, together with an award from an Israel official.

Jiang, from southwest China’s Sichuan Province, was honored by the Consulate General of Israel in Chengdu for his heroic deeds during the magnitude-8 earthquake that hit Sichuan’s Wenchuan County on May 12, 2008.

Maayan, who was traveling in the province, was badly hurt during the earthquake. Jiang found her and walked with her for 12 hours before she finally received medical treatment.

On Tuesday, Jiang and Maayan spoke for the first time since those events, exchanging messages on computer screens, with the assistance of the Consulate General of Israel in Chengdu, a gesture to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Consul General Ran Peleg presented a medal to Jiang for his heroic actions.

During the quake, Maayan’s jaw was injured by a flying rock, preventing her from speaking and eating. For the 12 hours that she was with Jiang, she was unable to speak with him. She couldn’t even thank Jiang with words when she was taken away by the ambulance.

In the video meeting, she was finally able to say a “thank you” to the man who rescued her.

Two days after the quake, in the early morning, Jiang found Maayan on the street of his hometown and decided to escort her to a place where medical treatment could be accessed.

The beginning was the most difficult part of the journey. It usually took Jiang just one hour to walk along the mountain section of the road. But Maayan could not walk by herself, and had to rely on Jiang and another Israeli girl who was with her. It took them six hours.

To prevent Maayan from dehydrating, Jiang fed her water bit by bit with the cap from a bottle of water.

“I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to get out that day and would have to spend the night on the mountain,” Jiang said.

Sleeping on top of the mountain would have been dangerous due to ongoing aftershocks and landslides.

Fortunately, they met many warm-hearted people along the way, including Jiang’s uncle and Maayan’s Israeli classmates. The group reached the road before dark, and an ambulance picked Maayan up.

Thirteen years have since passed, and Maayan is already the mother of three children. In April, she saw on social media that the Consulate General of Israel in Chengdu had donated some computers to a middle school in Wenchuan, and she posted her story under the article.

Her comment was read by many who had experienced the quake, and Jiang was identified as Maayan’s rescuer.

“I am very happy to know that Maayan has recovered and has a family of her own,” Jiang said.

“Love and mutual assistance can transcend race and language,” said Maayan.


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