Heroes behind the scenes

By Lisa Carducci
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, March 18, 2011
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When Sichuan was hit by an earthquake almost three years ago, Japanese teams came to help. I will never forget their dignified attitude for the dead: They treated the bodies as if they were still alive, and, on two rows, they bowed to each of them, lying on the soil, before they continued to rescue others.

Recently, Japan had its turn. Most Japanese may have experienced earthquakes in the past. However, what makes the recent one special is not only its high magnitude, but the tsunami that followed. To add insult to injury, Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, following a series of explosions and fires, has become the focus of the whole world as a nuclear catastrophe is threatening all of us.

The nuclear plant's staff was evacuated on Wednesday as radiation levels had reached an extremely high level. Eight hundred men had already been there for several days. Following new government information a little later, notwithstanding the risk for their health, they returned to continue their operations. Only 50 were kept, but all of them deserve our admiration.

Did these 50 workers volunteer for the dangerous job or were they ordered to do it? One or the other way doesn't make difference in the courage they need and the generosity they display. The names of these heroes who risk their life for the sake of others – including of us – are kept confidential.

When Chernobyl accident occurred in 1986, "134 emergency workers were exposed to massive doses of radiation and 28 died within three months of the accident," according to the UN figures quoted by John Sexton in a China.org.cn article. Though Japanese workers may be better protected and trained, the risks they face are multiple and serious. They work in the high radiation zone, and as they are outside all the time, they are directly exposed to the radioactivity released by the melt reactors, their smoke and vapors. They have to clean up debris with their own hands, and open roads that have been covered by smashed cars and even houses, and bodies. A heavy snowfall worsened the work conditions. They have little rest, and look exhausted.

May their sacrifice not be done in vain. The brave workers will certainly be honored for their merit when things go back to normal. But how many of them will receive a posthumous medal? How many of them will still have long years to live with their families, enjoying perfect health?

The author is a freelance writer based in Beijing.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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