July 14, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Dispatch from Abroad China in Distress

I’ve been in numbing denial the last few days trying to stay calm in the midst of yet another natural disaster in China. This time, it hit a little too close to home. My cousin, Regina, and her mother, my favorite aunt, were vacationing in Sichuan from Brazil and ended up being stuck in the rubble. They were just helicoptered out of danger, but many are still stranded there, leaving their lives to fate. My cousin’s exhausted voice shook as she retold her experience to me.  

They were in a bus heading up one of the mountains in the region when the earth started shaking and boulders started raining down. Before they could even react to the possibility of the bus falling off the mountain, they were completely covered in darkness. They had to break the back window and crawl to a safer place. They left everything behind and spent a night without food and water inside a freezing cave. After a night of rainfall and dust storms, they were spotted by some villagers, who led them on a five-kilometer sprint downhill. Falling rocks and haze accompanied them along the way. In the nearby village they were provided with blankets, food, water and shelter, though the villagers barely had enough for themselves. Three agonizing days later, the Chinese military showed up and granted them access to a satellite phone. Miraculously, they were able to reach a friend in the Brazilian consulate and, eventually, a helicopter arrived to fly them to Chengdu.

Americans and other foreigners may still be stranded in the area not knowing when the next rescue helicopter will come. Approximately 2,000 tourists were on that mountain. 15,000 lives, local and foreign, have been lost so far. Corpses have begun to rot. People are shelterless and drinking from infested rivers. Many Sichuan locals who survive this experience will be desperately seeking a reason to live.   

As we go to print, the death toll in the province of Sichuan has risen to more than 60,000 with 29,300 people still missing.  To donate to the China earthquake relief effort, visit www.american.redcross.org

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