By Xinhua writer Zhou Yan
The 7.8 earthquake that jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province on Monday is undoubtedly one of the nation's worst disasters in recent decades.
Nearly 15,000 lives were lost and about twice as many people are feared to have still been buried in the rubble on Wednesday.
The disaster pulls everyone's heartstrings, and the Chinese nation has been united to cope with its common plight, extend help and pray for more people to survive.
Tears swelled in my eyes when I saw towns and cities were flattened and children of my son's age were buried in the rubble.
When my best friend cried over the dead in her hometown, we all felt her loss.
Yet we gasped at the courage, wisdom and perseverance of some survivors: a 6-year-old who nibbled at an apple for more than 40 hours in the ruins until she was pulled out by rescuers; a senior high school boy who calmly told the other boys to "be brave" and the girls "not to cry" and wrenched open a crumbling wall through which 33 classmates escaped.
While we lament over the lost lives, we feel clearly the human nature of love, even amid disaster.
Love helped a 3-year-old girl survive the quake, underneath the dead bodies of her parents.
Love saved a child in the arms of his kindergarten teacher, who sandwiched himself between the boy and a falling floor slab and died.
Driven by love, a businesswoman risked her life to enter her ruined store to find cloth for shrouds to preserve the dignity of the dead.
Love makes the world go 'round.
Chinese compatriots across the globe have opened their wallets to donate cash. Many also rummaged through their wardrobes for clothing, quilts and sheets, and rolled up their sleeves to donate blood for the quake victims.
By Wednesday, Beijingers had filled the city's blood bank and authorities had to tell the waiting crowds to leave their phone numbers and wait until more blood is needed.
As of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, donations of cash and goods to the quake-hit areas were valued at 877 million yuan (125 million US dollars), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
A group of 18 mountaineers from Beijing, including doctors, business owners and office workers, flew to Pengzhou, a quake-hit area in Sichuan on Wednesday, hoping to help rescue the victims with their field survival skills.
Where there's life, there's hope.
"We have to save people at all costs!" At Premier Wen Jiabao's plea, 90 more helicopters were sent to quake-hit areas on Thursday. More People's Liberation Army soldiers have parachuted into the most remote regions. Rescuers are searching the ruins for life. Supplies are being airdropped and communication is being restored.
We watch closely the rescue work and the fate of those buried in the rubble. All the while, we cross our fingers, hoping our nation will make it through the trial.
(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2008)