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Diary records relief efforts at an isolated township
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For more than 100 hours, blocked roads, power failures and broken communications have besieged survivors. How did local party organizations help over 2,800 people in disaster areas?

Hu Tao's work diary.

[Reading Tips] This is translation of a work diary by Hu Tao, the deputy secretary of the Party Committee in Longchi Township, Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province.

Longchi is only a mountain away from Yingxiu Township in Wenchuan County, the earthquake's epicenter. After the earthquake, this former "Xanadu" – home to a national forest park and giant panda habitats – was suddenly turned into an "isolated township in the mountains". Roads were blocked, power supplies were cut and communications were broken. Throughout the township consisting of five villages and a neighboring community, many houses collapsed.

But when large-scale relief troops and supplies arrived, people discovered that the earthquake relief work was being carried out in an orderly and efficient manner in this heavily hit town. Casualties were also rather low. Among the more than 2,800 local people affected by this disaster, only a little over 30 people died.

Hu Tao has a habit of keeping a diary. After the earthquake struck, he borrowed a Police Work Diary notebook from a local police station and began writing things down. The red notebook soon became filled with notes so he started using an exercise book. He hoped to keep a detailed record of each command unit and to document the arrangements made by the temporary rescue headquarters. He said that this was more than a personal kind of memory device: it would be useful for people to summarize their gains and losses in the future.

Due to time restraints sometimes only key words were actually written down in the little notebook. To help our readers we, based on the original record and Hu Tao's own explanations, have added our edits to clarify how a town Party committee and the local government organized people to help themselves.

[2:33 PM, May 12] Emergency Headquarters established

At 2:28 PM, I was giving a report on my work in the Town Party Committee Secretary Wang Jin's room. Suddenly, the house began shaking and moving laterally. Dust fell down from the roof. Wang Jin responded quickly and shouted, "Earthquake! Everyone go outside!"

The two-story building opposite the town government collapsed in front of us. I crouched and used my cell phone to dial 110. Wang Jin was also making a call. We couldn't get through: no signal. We stared at each other and realized how serious the situation was.

The strong shocks finally stopped. Wang Jin stood up, and due to the graveness of this emergency, convened a temporary enlarged meeting of the Party committee. Among the participants were dozens of cadres from our local town authorities.

At 2:33 PM, Emergency Headquarters was established with Wang Jin as Commander-in-chief. Our temporary office is an open space along the roadside of Liping Village.

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