Trapped for 216 Hours, 14 Workers Rescued

May 22, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: May 22, 2008 12:00 am

On the afternoon of May 21, 14 power plant workers who had been trapped for nine days following the Sichuan earthquake, were successfully rescued.

One female survivor, Cui Changhui, suffered multiple fractures and was in critical condition. After being sent to Huaxi Hospital in Chengdu City, Sichuan, her status is currently stable.

According to a report by Jinghua Shibao (Jinghua Times) on May 21, following the guidance of a worker who had managed to make his own escape, a helicopter successfully rescued 14 of his fellow employees who were trapped since last week in a water intake tunnel at Jinhe Hydroelectric Power Station of Sichuan Bashu Electric Power Development Corporation.

When the quake struck, 38-year-old Cui Changhui was trapped alone under a temporary work shed. Five of her colleagues moved her out of the collapsed shed, but she couldn't leave on her own due to injuries in her waist and arms.

On May 13, three of her co-workers escaped, leaving two with Cui. Facing constant aftershocks and blocked passages, the two workers remained unable to free her. As time passed by, Cui and her companions suffered extreme hunger and thirst.

On May 15, Cui told her colleagues to leave her. “If we continue to wait, all of us will die,” said Cui. “I don't want to encumber you guys! If you go first, you can deliver a message to others.” Finally, the other two left in tears.

Cui was the only one left. With no food or water, she slowly ate a pear left by a fellow worker, and later caught some earthworms and nearby weeds to stave off her growing hunger. Suffering extreme thirst, she was forced to suck on pieces of paper she had dipped in a pool of her urine.

Later, Li Jianjun, brother of Cui's husband, brought a 24-member rescue team to search for Cui. Yet due to a flood, the roads were washed out and they were stranded in the mountains.

Meanwhile, despite danger of aftershock, one of Cui's fellow employees brought her some bottled water and food to recharge her.

On May 21, a helicopter discovered Li Jianjun's rescue effort. Under Li's direction, the helicopter found Cui and 13 other workers who were trapped at other worksites. These 13 survivors had subsisted on rice, raindrops and air-dropped supplies.

Li Jianjun said that 22 of the 43 workers stationed at the water intake tunnel were killed by landslides and falling debris.

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