Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

China quake survivor recalled horror of 2008 as home shook

By Paul Armstrong and David McKenzie, CNN
April 22, 2013 -- Updated 0951 GMT (1751 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tens of thousands left homeless and in need of food and water
  • Relief effort hampered by persistent aftershocks, landslides
  • Routes into more remote and isolated towns and villages damaged
  • Residents describe how buildings shook violently, many collapsing

Editor's note: Are you in the affected area? Send us your images and experiences but please stay safe.

(CNN) -- It was early on Saturday when the residents of a small mountain town in the southern Chinese Province of Sichuan were shaken from their morning reverie by a powerful earthquake.

Fearing for their lives, many ran into the streets in terror as buildings around them shook violently and began to collapse.

The town of Longmen found itself at the epicenter of the quake, which struck just after 8 a.m. local time catching most people unawares as they prepared for work and the day ahead.

READ: Rescuers race to find survivors

Some escaped from their homes so quickly that their animals were left tethered helplessly outside.

People pay their respects at a newly built grave in Ya'an, China, on Saturday, April 27, one week after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake. More than 190 people died and thousands were injured after the quake struck China's southwest Sichuan province on April 20, state media reported. People pay their respects at a newly built grave in Ya'an, China, on Saturday, April 27, one week after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake. More than 190 people died and thousands were injured after the quake struck China's southwest Sichuan province on April 20, state media reported.
Deadly earthquake strikes China's Sichuan province
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Earthquake strikes China Photos: Earthquake strikes China
Quake strikes China's Sichuan province
See earthquake rattle China

"I was cooking breakfast," said Xiao Qiong. She described how her son was playing nearby when it struck.

"All of a sudden the house started swaying back and forth," she said. All she could do was grab her son and run.

Terrifying experience

For Xiao, the tremor was particularly terrifying given her experience five years earlier when the same region was decimated by another earthquake that killed more than 87,000 people. She was pregnant with her son at the time, so when Saturday's quake hit she recalled how scared she was for her unborn child and feared for the worst this time around.

iReport: Student recalls fear as tremors hit in Chengdu

"I shouted his name and screamed 'Where are you? Where are you?'

"I found him lying on a couch ... grabbed him and tripped on my way out. Everything was shaking -- houses, the electricity pole. It lasted a long time."

Both Xiao and her son survived.

But her uncle, who lived next door, was not so lucky after being crushed to death when his house collapsed on top of him.

Wrecked landscape

Everything was shaking -- houses, the electricity pole. It lasted a long time.
Survivor

Though this weekend's earthquake was not as devastating as in 2008, a walk around Longmen and other similarly remote towns and villages in Lushan County attests to considerable suffering, with thousands of people left hungry and homeless amid a wrecked landscape.

"We need everything. We haven't had a proper meal or drank good water since the quake," said Luo Hongying, as a group of fellow residents, both old and young, huddled together in a makeshift shelter.

The 49 year old described how she was leaving the house when it started to shake.

"I was just so frightened, I couldn't think straight," she said. "I just wanted to save my family inside."

Many were forced to spend the night in basic tents without electricity as they wait for more help from the outside world.

Aftershocks

Relief efforts have been hampered in their efforts by numerous aftershocks, some of which were stronger than magnitude 5.0, and massive boulders that had tumbled into valleys, blocking the roads into severely affected areas.

The threat of fresh landslides has made the situation all the more perilous for rescue teams searching for victims in the ruins of heavily damaged houses.

A soldier, one of thousands drafted in to help with the rescue operation, was badly injured by falling debris as he worked to find bodies trapped inside wrecked buildings. Fortunately an ambulance managed to get into this town, but it will be very difficult to get him out because of the badly damaged roads.

CNN's Steven Jiang in Lushan contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
It'd be hard to find another country that has spent as much, and as furiously, as China on giving its next generation a head start.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0532 GMT (1332 HKT)
In 1985, Meng Weina set up China's first private special needs school in the southern city of Guangzhou.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
November 3, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
ADVERTISEMENT