Feature: Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival in quake-hit Sichuan
CHENGDU, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Mo Baigui, a secondary school teacher from Luding County, planned to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with his colleagues on Saturday evening. But before the party, he rushed to help unload disaster relief materials in the county jolted by an earthquake earlier this week.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most important traditional festivals in China, falls on Saturday this year, coinciding with Teachers' Day in China.
A 6.8-magnitude temblor hit the county, in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province on Monday. A total of 88 people were killed and 30 remained missing as of Friday.
Mo and teachers in Luding have been seen contributing to the earthquake relief efforts.
At a temporary relocation site on a square in Moxi Township, a burst of laughter came from a blue tent on Saturday morning. Local kindergarten teachers, volunteers and around 30 children were celebrating the festival there decorated with handmade flowers and lanterns.
"We decorated the tent overnight and prepared gifts for the children, so that they could spend an unforgettable Mid-Autumn Festival," said Tao Qian, a local kindergarten teacher.
Located in Daba Village, Luqiao Township, a special education school that opened last year has 33 students aged from six to 16. Most of the students there have either intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities.
A short video recorded what happened at the school when the earthquake hit the county -- when the alarm rang, teachers and other school staffers rushed into the dormitory building to evacuate the students. Those who could move on their own were guided to go downstairs, and others with mobility difficulties were supported or carried to a safe place.
Chen Xue, a grade 8 teacher, carried a boy to an open space and then bravely returned to the dormitory building amid aftershocks to check if there was anyone left. She finally found a boy on the third floor, curled up in a corner.
"It's alright. I am here," said the 47-year-old, who later took the boy to a safe place. The evacuation was completed in three minutes and all students ended up safe and sound.
"It reminds me of the earthquake that occurred in Wenchuan, Sichuan 14 years ago," said Chen, who was then a teacher at a primary school in Luding.
"Students and teachers ran to the sports ground. We formed a big circle with kindergarten children in the middle encircled by upper grade students who were surrounded by teachers," Chen recalled, adding "It was the first time that we experienced such a violent earthquake. Everyone was very flustered, but also moved."
Over the past 14 years, Sichuan has made great efforts to improve safety education in schools across the province. Primary and secondary schools in Sichuan have established a long-term education mechanism to deal with earthquakes, and each school has an emergency plan for such a disaster.
For example, the special education school in Daba Village arranges two safety knowledge classes each week and one earthquake emergency drill per month.
So far, there have been no reports of casualties from primary and secondary schools in Ganzi.
Gao Xue, a university student, was picking crops with her family members when the earthquake occurred.
"I felt the ground shaking and saw rocks rolling down from the mountains," Gao recalled, adding that what she didn't expect was that her first phone call after the earthquake would be from her university teacher.
"She expressed her concern about my situation and cared about my family as well. We received 2,000 yuan (about 288 U.S. dollars) of subsidies for quake-hit students from my university in three days," Gao added.
"The village committee also distributed mooncakes to every household in the village yesterday. I will cook a fish for the family reunion dinner tonight," she said.