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Heroism Sparkles in Heilongjiang Inundation

Although still being haunted by the painful memories of the devastating floods occurring last Friday, survivors, particularly pupils at a school in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, have started to recall the acts of heroism seen during the rare inundation.

"I was dumbstruck by the fearful torrents and would probably have been washed away by floodwater if not being dragged to the roof by my teacher Wang Zhanhong," said Pang Xiangqian, a fifth-grader at the Central Primary School in Shalan Township of Ning'an City.

Flash floods caused by mountain torrents hit Pang's school at around 2:00 PM on June 10, when 351 pupils were in class. The torrents completely tumbled the school buildings and killed 95 students and four villagers by Thursday.

Ten students were still missing by Thursday afternoon, according to the rescue headquarters.

In order to rescue students from the sudden calamity, many teachers at the school smashed classroom windows with arms and helped students escape from the onrushing waters, which surged by10 centimeters every minute.

"I did not feel pain though my arms were bleeding from breaking the windows," said teacher Sha Xianjing, who saved more than 20 students in the floods.

Although her bravery was later praised by Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili, Sha still felt sorry for failing to save all students at her class, a due responsibly as she thought.

Busy with coordinating rescue efforts, school principal Xu Dejun hid worries about his own daughter, missing in the floods, deep in his heart, and burst into tears when he learned his wife was hospitalized for not knowing the whereabouts of their daughter after working some 30 hours in defiance of floods.

In addition to their teachers' bravery, school children, aged 10 on average, also showed courage to face up to a real risk of life for the first time in their lives.

The 14-year-old Wang Zhenchao, along with other boys in the class, leant against the classroom door to stem the floodwater from rushing in too quickly.

Although Wang and his peers later had to retreat from the door and stand on the windowsill for two hours before being rescued, he told Xinhua that he was really proud of what he and his classmates did in the face-to-face encounter with danger.

"Many of my classmates were washed away and we were scared to tears," recalled student Sun Zhongrui, saying he would never forget the moment when his classmate Wang Haicheng led them to perk up by singing a song.

"Wang was later engulfed by floods," said a weeping Sun on Thursday in Shalan Township.

Around 150 survivor students resumed class Monday morning in a local middle school, located some two km from the flood-hit primary school. Teachers from the nearby Mudanjiang City rushed to help educational efforts and provide psychological guidance.

About 1,300 hectares of farmland were inundated, 55 houses collapsed and 1,800 villagers' life were affected by the catastrophe, for which Heilongjiang Provincial governor would ask for administrative penalties for his "unshirkable responsibility." 
(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2005)

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