Survivors of the deadly landslide in Zhouqu will suffer more mental stress than those who escaped death after the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan in May 2008, a psychologist told China Daily on Wednesday.
Survivors crying before debris in Zhouqu, August 11.
"A landslide kills instantly. People are suffocated by mud, so relatives of the victims will be more traumatized because they know their loved ones have little or no chance of surviving," said Liu Li, a psychologist who began providing psychological counseling to the survivors as soon she arrived in Zhouqu with 13 other psychologists on Monday, one day after the disaster happened early Sunday morning.
Liu, who also helped Wenchuan earthquake survivors pull though tough times in 2008, said that after the earthquake, some people survived for days trapped in the rubble. This gave the survivors hope and time to gradually accept the cruel reality, she said.
In addition to physical health problems, landslide victims might show psychological problems including flashbacks, insomnia, loss of appetite, intense grief and suicidal thoughts, she said.
"We cannot let people who luckily survived the disaster lose their lives because of trauma," Liu said.
Sun Jiying, a 17-year-old student from Zhouqu No 1 middle school, was among the 68 people who were receiving help from the psychologists in the county.
"We found her constantly staring at the remains of her school without moving a muscle. She also kept calling out four names," said Mi Deng, leader of the medical team.