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Quake survivors show strength and stamina after trauma
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Four surgeries in eight days, and the 17-year-old man barely groaned.

Liao Bo was a student in the Beichuan Middle School who survived the May 12 earthquake. He was pulled out of the collapsed school building one day after the quake, but lost part of his left leg.

More than 30 days after the disaster, Chinese quake survivors are off the front pages, but their suffering is still all too real.

Liao, who is being treated in Chongqing, has suffered from repeated infections in his amputated leg, his doctor Liu Huaiqing said. When the pain strikes, Liao bites towels and chopsticks to keep himself from shouting.

"He was sweating heavily and the chopsticks snapped, but he barely groaned," Liu said. "It's rare to see such a strong kid as him".

Liao was having a political science lesson when the earthquake struck. "The room suddenly collapsed on top of me. I heard my classmates crying help, but their voices died down after a couple of hours," he recalled.

"I went through the longest night in my life before I was rescued, and I reminded myself to hang on and never give up. I still do this now," he said.

Twelve days after the tremor, the young man celebrated his 17th birthday in the ward. "I hope there would be no more earthquakes and no more disasters," he said, with a smile.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake had left 69,170 dead, and 14,094 are still being treated in hospitals by Monday noon, the State Council said. While being treated for injuries, many are planning to rebuild homes and move on with their lives.

In a hospital in Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu, a farmer named Liu Qingshuang lay in bed after losing his right leg in the earthquake. But for the 43-year-old man who divided a busy life between raising pigs, cows and sheep, growing walnut trees and working part-time for local construction businesses, there is no bitterness that can't be eaten.

"There are still so many things to worry about. I may have lost my sheep and pigs, but I think the chestnut trees should still be there," said Liu, a member of the Qiang ethnic group.

"There are no cowards among the Qiang men. Just give me three years, and I will get my life back," he added.

His nurses said he forgot the pain when he was planning for the future.

"As long as I don't smoke or drink away the money, life will be better, and I will invite those who saved me to my home," he said, smilingly.

Like the Chinese men, women are also endured with remarkable strength through the hardship.

Yu Jinhua, a middle-aged woman, spent more than 150 hours in the rubble of what used to be a power plant. It took rescuers more than two days to reach her, and both her legs were amputated in order to get her out.

She told her brother who was at the rescue site, "it wouldn't matter if I couldn't get out, you take care of my kids for me."

Almost all of her internal organs were damaged, her doctor Li Xiao'an said, but she made it. "It's not that we are helping her, but she is an encouragement and inspiration to all of us," Li said.

"I will have to depend on artificial legs, but I will stand up one day, because I don't want to trouble others.

"Now that I've survived, I have to live, and live with dignity, " she said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2008)

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