14 years on, rescuer passes on love and kindness

China Daily
Wang Xinjuan
2022-09-09 09:25:45
Zhang Zili holds a baby discovered in a search operation after an earthquake hit Luding county, Southwest China's Sichuan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

After a magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit Luding county in Southwest China's Sichuan province on Monday, rescuers from across the province have rushed to the hardest-hit areas to help affected residents.

During the search and rescue operations, the photo of a young rescuer holding a 2-month-old baby in his arms has pulled the heartstrings of many people.

Zhang Zili and fellow members from the Forest Fire Brigade of Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture discovered the baby and her grandmother trapped at their home in a village on Tuesday. The rescuers have transferred the infant, who suffered a minor head injury, and his grandma to safety.

The baby's father is also a firefighter who was participating in rescue operations after the quake hit. His mother and grandfather were severely injured and sent to hospital.

The photo of Zhang holding the baby moved many people. Zhang was lovingly referred to as "brother Wenchuan" for the characters of "Wenchuan" on his armband, which indicates that he is from the Wenchuan squadron of the Aba forest fire brigade.

Zhang hands the baby to a doctor. [Photo/Xinhua]

The 20-year-old is a native of Maoxian county, which is close to Wenchuan county, the epicenter of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 69,000 people in 2008.

14 years ago, Zhang witnessed the devastating quake, which brought down his family's house. He and his family lived in a temporary shelter set up at a school playground.

"I remembered the tent we lived in was dark, and I was scared," Zhang said.

Zhang said he recalled how emergency supplies were air-dropped from helicopters and how soldiers of the People's Liberation Army and rescuers helped locals tide over the difficulties.

"Then a uncle of the PLA came to me. He taught me songs to sing and played with me. He kept saying, 'don't be afraid, we are here now'".

The words left a deep impression on the boy's heart.

This year, when he learnt that the local forest fire brigade was recruiting fire fighters, he did not hesitate to join it.

Since then, in less than four months, he has taken part in several forest firefighting missions and rescue operations of the latest earthquake.

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