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Volunteers: earthquake relief force angels
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Volutneers are helping with building the temporary shelter for earthquake survivors at Xingfu community, Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, May 23. (China.org.cn)

The Wenchuan earthquake on May 12 has given birth to thousands of rescuers, comprising officials, soldiers, policemen and health care workers. In the face of this national disaster, they have embraced their mission and unhesitatingly rushed to the frontlines. Among this relief force is a special population of ordinary people from all walks of life, coming from all across the nation. These people all have the same name – volunteer!

Volunteers earliest in action

On the afternoon of May 12, Mianyang, one of the most severely damaged earthquake districts, was full of panic and chaos. Communications were interrupted but independent short-wave radio enthusiasts in Mianyang greeted each other and inquired about the disaster via radio. According to Mr. Liao, one of the initiators in this temporary action, while communications were interrupted their radios served as the only means to retain contact. After friends in the club had confirmed that all of their family members were safe, everyone calmed down and began to communicate via radio to help assist with rescue operations.

"Compared to other volunteer organizations, we radio enthusiasts have a more convenient means of communication. Most of our friends have jeeps so we can easily go into the mountains to do rescue work," said Liao. These advantages made it possible for them to organize the first motorcade, loaded heavily with relief supplies. It rushed to Beichuan, a heavily hit disaster area.

"Scores of miles away from Beichuan, we found a large number of people; many were injured. They had marched down the mountain on foot. We began to help transfer the wounded and we also set up a relay station every few kilometers using our own radios in order to provide communication support for the rescue line from Mianyang to Beichuan." As he was being interviewed, Mr. Liao kept calling his comrades. His voice was hoarse but still powerful.

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