On May 18, following a 33 hour march across difficult terrain, a brigade of the People's Liberation Army reached Sier, a Tibetan township with 328 inhabitants, lying 4,000 meters above sea level. Sier is the highest and most remote point yet reached by a relief squad during the current rescue effort in Sichuan.
At 10 o'clock on the morning of May 19, when Tibetan villager De De Zhuodan regained consciousness, he grasped brigade commander Yang Wenyao's hand and told him: "The Army has saved my life. You are my brothers."
The tiny Tibetan township of Sier, part of Pingwu County, lies more than 4000 meters above the sea level. The May 12 earthquake destroyed all the houses in the township and the 328 inhabitants were cut off from the outside world for five days, with supplies of food, drinking water and medicine running low. Sixteen villagers were severely injured and were at risk of losing their lives if not treated.
At eight in the morning of May 17, a brigade of 80 soldiers, led by Yang Wenyao, set out to deliver 40 kilograms of food and medicine to Sier. The march was extremely hazardous and several times soldiers were almost buried alive by rock falls and mud slides. But their determination to rescue the townsfolk drove them on. They arrived at 16:30 the following day, after marching 120 kilometers in 33 hours.
Although exhausted, the soldiers threw themselves into rescue work as soon as they arrived. They used every means available to evacuate the villagers, carrying old people and children on their backs, and the severely-injured on stretchers. Eventually all 328 villagers were transferred to a safe place, and the condition of the 16 severely injured was stabilized.
(China.org.cn by Xiang Bin, May 20, 2008)