A Chinese rescuer's account of joining quake relief efforts in Türkiye

Updated: February 24, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Liu Zhengling (L), a member of the China Blue Sky Rescue Team returning from quake-hit Türkiye, poses for a photo with his fiancee Jiang Zhaohua as arriving at a railway station in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, Feb. 20, 2023. (Xinhua)

GUIYANG, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Clutching a bouquet of flowers, Jiang Zhaohua's heart raced with anticipation as she waited for her fiance Liu Zhengling at a railway station in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, earlier this week.

As Liu exited from the station with 12 other members of the China Blue Sky Rescue Team returning from quake-hit Türkiye, Jiang rushed forward and gave her fiance a big hug.

Liu, 28, joined the civil relief squad in November 2018. He began to serve as the captain of the squad's branch in Qianxi City in Guizhou in May 2020.

After devastating earthquakes jolted Türkiye and Syria on Feb. 6, several Chinese rescue teams wasted no time in heading to the affected regions to join the rescue operation. Liu had initially planned to join his teammates in Guiyang on Feb. 7 before heading for Türkiye. However, Jiang persuaded him not to go out of concern of his safety.

"I couldn't stop thinking about the disaster at home and watched the news about the quakes every day. The more I watched it, the sadder I felt," Liu recalled. When Liu brought up the plan again, Jiang agreed.

"I knew from the news how devastating the disaster was. As he was so eager to help, all I could do was to ask him to take good care of himself," Jiang said.

On Feb. 10, Liu and six other teammates headed for Türkiye. After arriving in the disaster area, they were tasked with detecting signs of life and demolishing collapsed houses.

At 2:50 p.m. on Feb. 14 local time, Liu and his teammates, together with members of other rescue teams, jointly rescued a survivor who had been trapped in a collapsed building for 180 hours. "This was indeed a miracle of life," Liu said exuberantly.

The operation in Türkiye, Liu's first in a foreign country, has left him with an unforgettable experience.

"When people in other countries encounter disasters or hazards, we should help them to the best of our abilities," said Liu, explaining his eagerness to help. "Our efforts will pay off even if only one life is saved."

While in Türkiye, Liu and other Chinese rescuers were often warmly greeted by locals on the streets. Some even expressed their appreciation in newly-learned Chinese, which was heartwarming for the team.

"He is very enthusiastic and dedicated to public welfare, and I am proud of him," Jiang said.

Before the operation in Türkiye, Liu had taken part in 35 rescue missions. His first mission was to search for a missing 75-year-old man in the mountains back in December 2018.

After successfully finding and rescuing the old man, Liu realized the impact of his outdoor skills and his capacity to save other people. "This was when I made up my mind to make public welfare my career." 

Editor: Li Shimeng