True Story of A Miracle Of a Group of Survived Student/Teachers From
Long-Han Elementary School in Bei-Chuan
I can not remember all the detailed Li-Jun Deng told me, on May 12, but
from her words, I learned that she is a partially disabled student.
From her childhood on, her left leg has been stiff and can not move freely.
In That period, she was permitted to go bathroom downstairs 10 minutes
before period end. She moved slowly, getting to the ground floor, and out
of the building. When she was in the sunlight outside, the earth began to
roar and everything began to shiver.
She tried all she could to run away from the building, fell several time
because of her clumsy left leg. but made to that small bamboo forest nearby,
then she heard shouting of the P-E teacher, "To the open PE square!" So she
got there with another 3 girls. 3 minutes later, all of the 483 students
I thought to myself, she was really lucky to get out of the classroom
earlier. With her dead leg, she could have been knocked down by the
rushing crowd and hurt. Then it would not have been the miracle. A miracle
that none of the 483 students was even injured, when the other schools in town
had suffered over two thousants student death.
Then the miracle journey began, let by Xiao-Chuan Xiao, one of the teacher.
She and other 9 teachers had lead 71 students (they are now all back with their
families), had gone through a two days and one night ordeal, without water
and food supply, over the mountains, reached Mian-Yang City unhurt. One of the
kids was just 4 year old, and one the mountain was over 2000 meters high.
It became a legend throughout the city Mianyang and the Bei-Chuan district, how
the 71 students survuved. I don't want to tell the legend people are still
spreading around. I want to tell you the true story I learned. The thrue human
story. Not heroic, but human.
When it happened, Xiao Xiao-Chuna was reading a book in her office. She found
the book began to shake in her hand. And the shaking became hectic. Wu, another
teacher, was partrolling along the build in her sight outside. They two were
the teachers on duty that day for school operation and administration. They
were scared and began to shout: "To the open square!" I did not ask how they
organized the evacuation so swiftly and, all the actions the students told me
and their parents, had been done so wise, or even perfessionally. How they first
squant down, along the corner walls; and then, went out along the side walls,
not the big gate in the middle. And how they managed to build their make????
tent. No one had the ????al knowledge about how to survive in such situations.
But it was all done like later people read from the survival maunauls.
I thought the story was almost like in that movie >, Han (a student) said
he remember too, about that movie: how they transported the animal to the safe,
middle in the war. They did have fear, doubt and desperation, but they got through
they made a miracle.
They overnight in a correcdoor in another middle school's passway that felt solid
and collecting. It helped the youngs to feel better and together. When they started
to escape again from there, they were better organized, less panicked - it ached
my heart thinking of how they went through it - yet so young.
Xiao-Chuan was interviewd in the TV, and she was asked about a lot of details.
But she told me afterwards, "I did not say to them, but I tell you, I was so scared.
I did not truely believe we could survive. It was the end of the world" Wu, the
other teacher: " it was so terrifying I thought it was my last day alive. Our
last day." That did not sound very heroic as it was in that TV interview. But
I think it was much more human and truely convincing. They were the true heros
they saved the kids.
Remaining in that open square was not safe either: the maintain was roaring and
huge rocks rolling down the hill nearby. We had to move to higher and safer place
after carefully looking around, the teacher decided for a more flat maintain
slope. They moved the whole group over there. Xiao had never learned how to chop
bamboos, but on that day, she cut through a lot abmboos for getting through.
Wu picked some rags he collected along the way through the village and they made
a simple tent with what they could find. It was too small to have every one lie
down. The student slept sitting back to back, under it.
When it was dark, when it started to shake again, all were deadly scared and no
one gave a sound. It was raining, and it was shivering. They felt big rocks rolling
dow the hill, making terrifying noise. They were the scared lam, the teacher were
"There was no light at all, total terror of darkness." Some kid started to
play games of lining-ups. Deng was smilling when she told me about this. She told
me how they run, joking who was scared and called out "Mom!" She told me she likes
her own name to be called.
One experienced journalist, Tang, later told me, in desperation, human would try
to sooth themselves. I think I understnd that now.
Teacher Li showed me their prepared psychological counselling program. Now after
I did not get it why they tried to go through the maintains and all the
difficulties to get to the city. Why they just stay there and wait. "We knew
they were busy rescuring all others in town. We have to rescure ourselves."
there was no arguement, the decision was clear for them. Go and seek for help,
not waiting. It was a gamble. Going throught the shaking mountains with all
the youngs - stay may be more dangerous.
Their path: ShuiDong, JingJiaShan, YangLiuPing. three villages, three mountains.
and one forest. They had gone through cracks, around land-slides, heavy rain
falls. One teacher, a lady went away on her own - understandable reasons. Another
woman teach had asthma, along the way up, she looked blue. She said, "I will
follow along. I will not die here." They pushed on.
"There were some scare nature phemoninons occured during the quake," they told
me. "it was day light, but all of a sudden, it became pich dark," They were in a
big dark fog emerged from the mountain crack. They could not see each other
among themselves. It reminded them the scary ghoust stories that the dark ghoust
would take away your souls. "It felt very cold in the dark fog. cold to the bones"
"we called out each other's name, and answered each other with full shout too,"
that way, they felt they were together. "And the ghoust failed to take our souls"
"because of our bright spirit."
I did not want they talk too much about the scary detailed. It may cast more shadow
in their young minds. Kids should be cheerful. "say cheers, and let me see your
white teeth." "I like your smills showing your wonderful wihte teeth"
So they were shouting and noisy in the forest, till they got out of that terrifying
The way from there was more difficult. It was a saying: Don't marry your daughter
to JingJiaShan man, you will not see her easily.
And the other moral goes: you can not get through the path without climbing shoes.
It was a very difficult moutain path, sliperry and surrounded by deep cliffs.
The mountain was full of cracks caused by the quake. And there were land slides.
Even worse was, the path was almost unrecognizable by now: the earthquake
had changed the mountains constellations. Well they guessed the way through. And
they found their path.
It was some jokes after the event. Two old ladies were chatting with each other
across ravine. And suddenly they found they had to shout loud to be heard. Why?
the ravine became a big valley and they were now far away.
Another goes: A pesant asked the other, "why this hill is so bold, no tree on it,
I have never seen it." the other said, "yes, it is true it is my first time see it
That girl in red, now asleep, both of her parents died in the quake. She has been
silent these days. She needs some psychological counselling.
"It was muddy, and many of us lost their shoes," But no one was dropped away from
the group. The elder helped the youngs (the youngst was a 5 year old), and teachers
helped them finding shoes, even steal shoes from the villagers.
Two days and one night. 71 students and 8 teachers, with a couple bottles of water
and a little snacks. "We teachers let every student get a small crumb of crackers,
and a tiny bit of water," Xiao tld me. "just enough to keep their spirit for wanting
to survive. When someone was swallowing front, you could hear someone behind
got his mouth watered and swalowing that. I had full tears in my eyes when I
see that." Xiao said.
I asked how they encourage the youngs. "bite your teeth together!" Most students
had never been to Mianynag city, the biggest twon arround here. "We will get to
Mianyang and all the goodies are awaiting!" "Icecreams, cakes, coca colas!" " and
the uncle policement are waiting for you with all that in their hands!" All kids
knew that uncle policemen are nice people and fun to be with. They all look up
to their heroism of helping people.
They passed two big housed, sadly, the residents in the house refused to help.
And they arrived the town. There were no icecreams and candies. All people
in a frenzy and chaos. The authorities asked, "how many from the school missing?"
"None." It was a big astonnishment to them. Yes, all the student were alive and sound,
more or less. "We thought you were all gone." The government person exclaimed.
On the bus to Mianyang, all kids fell asleep like dead - they were dead tired.
But, when the bus arrived Mianyang, all were in high spirit. They were kids from
the mountain villages, most of them had never seen such a big city. It was heaven,
even when it was a big chaos. For someone from hell, here must be heaven then.
To my left is Xiao Xiao-Chuan, my right, Wu Shao-Xian. Big thank to them. Oh,
all of them are now dressed with new outfits - Long-Han sponsorship people
offered every one new set of clothes. Xiao: we never dressed so well and fansy.
I saw them again in a middle school campus, all looked happy and cheerful. It
made me wonder. The teachers told me, in their psychological counselling program,
they tried to feed the young minds with "Tom and Herry" and so on....
Well, none of these kids had seen the dead, sofar. How happy they are, now.
This is not the end of the story, actually.
If the school build had been crushed within seconds, like a lot of other schools,
they would not have been a group of survivers. And there would be no story of
going to the town. I learned there had been a sponsorship group named Long-Han,
they raised fund for building up this school named Long-Han good Hope Elementary,
back 10 years ago. Their boss named Liu-Han, top manager Sun XiaoDong. He was the
person overseeing the project back then.
Now people all know the value of a solid building and thank Long-Han.
I found one of the a top person at Long-Han. He want to be called Mr.X. - he did
not want to get anyone, and himself in trouble by letting his name known. I learned
10 year ago, Liu-Han and Sun said to X, We will not let schools fall short, you
have to tightly control the project. If it is not the best quality, you are the
first to go.
One day, 10 years ago, They found the cement quality was bad. Too much mud mixed
in. Mr.X. onec worked in a cement factory and had gone through big projects with
tens of thousands of tons of concrete processing. He was an expert, he knew about
the cement quality. He found mud in the material, and he found the pebble stones
were not all round ones. Flad pebble stone can weaken the structure, he said.
So he was very angry with people. He ordered that all mud must be washed away,
and pebble stone resorted and changed.
At one meeting, he found some people did not dare to look into his eyes.
He chased to the root: funding was intercepted by some middle men - it happened
often that time. He chased and traced the all banks bitterly. So all people got
the good pay and could work well.
When it was almost done, the final build of the middle P-E square (where the 483
kids first collected together), was delayed and delayed, he was furious again.
After some fight, that was finally done on time.
Mr.X insisted if I write, I should quoted the words "fight": he did not want it
to be seen as a serious fights. Someone may get into trouble.
I think I don't need to say too much about it either. It was a miracle that the
students were all alive after the quake of this magnitude, but we all know,
that time, to get the money really flow to the building, was a true miracle.
Because Mr.X inssited to be X, here are the names in the story:
Liu Han, Sun Xiao-Dong, Xiao Xiao-Chuan, Wu Shao-Xian, Chen Shi-Ron, Luo Zhong-Hui,
Mu Xian-Ying, Sheng Chang-Shu, Zhao Yi-Hui, Mu Guang-Lan, Wu Yan-Ming.
P.S. a short message I just got from Mr.X:
the 5 schools I built 10 years ago, none of them collapsed. No single student
and teach got hurt. You are welcome to Mianyang.
My thought: the miracle happened 10 years ago,
when they thought of 10 years later.