Wen Jia rushed out of the dormitory building with a swarm of screaming schoolmates when a 4.0-magnitude aftershock hit Dujiangyan Thursday evening. With the devastating Sichuan quake only six months back, she recalled the horrible moment on May 12 when she was buried by a collapsed school building.
The 15-year-old said everything that occurred during the quake, which killed nearly 70,000 people, including 51 of her classmates in Juyuan Middle School, flashed through her mind although she had already experienced other aftershocks.
"I thought I wouldn't be afraid any more, but it's the first time I have experienced an aftershock in the same environment (in the school) as at that time," she said.
Wen had been buried under the ruins for nearly six hours. Fortunately, she suffered only slight head and leg injuries and soon recovered. Since then, however, she had been haunted by the scene of her desk mate being hit by the collapsed classroom ceiling and falling down immediately.
She said she also frequently recalled the dead, cold feet of two classmates who were trapped with her in a narrow space under debris.
"We kept encouraging each other, but they gradually lost their breath before the rescuers came," she said.
Feng Kai, principal of the Dujiangyan High School, where Wen Jia continued her education after finishing junior school in Juyuan, said the freshmen from Juyuan Middle School were more sensitive to the aftershock than other students who didn't really experience the quake.
The Chinese government and many non-governmental organizations sent psychological experts to the quake zone to counsel some survivors, which Wen Jia also benefited from. However, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder which comes after exposure to terrifying events, could come on long after the quake. Experts warn that it will still take time for the likes of Wen and her schoolmates to come to terms with their ordeal.
"They stayed out of the building until late into the night. We could tell that they lacked the sense of safety," Feng said, adding that they need more help to overcome the trauma.
The quake has claimed lives besides the killing physically.
Luo Shibin, 45, a government official responsible for relocating the quake survivors in Pingwu County, Mianyang City, collapsed after working more than 12 hours on Oct. 24. Gao Xueyuanwas in Luo's team which was responsible for the relocation of more than 1,200 quake-affected households, as well as improving local infrastructure, and had just had supper with Luo.
Gao said they hadn't taken any weekends off since May 12 and the last time he took his four-and half year old son out to play was in April.
"We were very tired, but we had no other choice," he said.