Déjà vu: Earthquake in Haiti Echoes in Chinese Hearts

By Liu Qiong
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Today, March 5, 2010
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"The first sight on the UNMIH building brought tears to my eyes," Liu Gang recalled in his rescue log. "It was very clear that with destruction like this, the possibility of survival was almost zero." At 2pm local time on January 16, they located the remains of two UN high officials, and handed them over to the UN. Thereafter, they found the remains of the eight Chinese peacekeepers, including Zhong Jianqin, as well as another five UN staff members.

"We decided to set up operations in the UNMIH headquarter knowing its significance. Hedi Annabi, head of the UNMIH and his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa were buried here and we had obtained detailed information about their locations," says Huang Jianfa, leader of the CISAR team. "We made an assessment of the on-site disaster situation and decided finding and rescuing survivors to be the premise of our initial task."

Despite the blazing temperatures and unbearable stench, the CISAR members did their best to endure the long-hours of non-stop work. On January 17, Huang and his team rushed for Carrefour, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, and other regions that were most affected. "CISAR performed their rescue operations regardless of nationality. Our principle was mobilizing as many resources in the shortest possible time to the most needed areas."

In addition to rescuing survivors, CISAR also set up rescue points at the Presidential Palace and the Prime Minister's residence to provide medical services for the Haitian people.

"At these rescue points, the wounded flooded in, many of whom had been seriously injured and infected. But what shocked me most was the loss and numbness of the situation I saw in their eyes." Han Wei had experienced hundreds of rescues in his career, but was still unprepared by what he saw in Haiti, especially the injured children.

CISAR's medical team also handed out French-language leaflets with important tips and information on post-disaster epidemic prevention, and publicized needed health information over loudspeakers. On January 18, it started spraying disinfectants across Port-au-Prince.

Many members of the international media have reported on the CISAR positively. The AFP aired an article entitled China Leads in Haiti Rescue with a large photo of the team's departure from Beijing. The article said the plane carrying the Chinese rescuers arrived in Haiti on Thursday, just two days after the earthquake, leading the international rescue.

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