‘Little Earthquake Hero’ A Hoax?

May 29, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
Yao Ming and Lin Hao at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)
Yao Ming and Lin Hao at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Lin Hao, a second grade student from an elementary school in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, rose to the status of “young hero” thanks to his reportedly gallant act during the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province. He has since transferred to a better school in the provincial capital of Chengdu, appeared in commercials and TV shows, and has an agent to manage his business.

As his fame grew, so did questions about the authenticity of his stories. Reports have surfaced on the Internet that Lin may have not been as brave as the media have portrayed.

Major state-run newspapers have said this about Lin Hao, “At this moment [after the collapse of the school building], little Lin Hao showed maturity far beyond his age. As a class leader, he organized fellow students to sing under the rubble to keep the morale high. He also consoled female students who cried out in fear. After about two hours of struggle, Lin Hao finally climbed out of the rubble. Knowing that there were still dozens of his classmates buried, the nine-year-old did not flee in panic. Instead, he climbed back in to rescue his classmates. He carried two classmates out of the debris. During the rescue, he incurred several injuries to his head and upper body.”

Since then, the story of a young boy saving two classmates was spread all across the country. Lin Hao became one of the 20 “Young Heroes of the Earthquake.”

During the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, Lin Hao ran alongside basketball player Yao Ming, waving the Chinese national flag.

Southern Metropolis Weekly published a report recently, telling a different version of the event. This report was written by Yang Meng, and based on his interviews in Sichuan Province.

The report quoted Assistant Principal Zhang Chundong of Yingxiu Elementary, which Lin Hao attended. Zhang said, “I rescued Lin Hao from the rubble. Lin Hao did not find any students, nor did he bring anyone to me.”

Zhang said that the second graders were on the second floor. He arrived immediately after the collapse and rescued more than a dozen students. The first to be rescued was a girl whose ankle was broken. The second was Lin Hao.

In response to media reports that Lin returned to the rubble to save others, Zhang said, “I did not see Lin saving others. It was quite chaotic at the time. I’m not sure what Lin was doing.”

The elementary school declined to comment. Lin Hao’s father, Lin Dakun, said, “People question Lin Hao’s story because they are jealous [of his fame].”

A restaurant owner in Yingxiu District said, “The story was just to set a role model. People here all know that it wasn’t true.”

Lin Hao’s mother added, “I just hope Lin Hao can grow up happily, and that our family lives peacefully and safely.”

Read original article in Chinese.