RACING AGAINST TIME: Rescuers carry two-and-half-year-old Xiang Weiyi to the hospital at 5:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon, some 20 hours after the train collision near Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. The accident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. on July 23 when bullet train D301 rear-ended D3115. The death toll has risen to 35 and 192 others were injured as of Sunday night (XINHUA)
In Wenzhou, a city in east China's Zhejiang Province, it is common to see torrential downpours during the summer. July 23, 2011 seemed like a pleasant day for Xiang Weiyi, a girl just over two years old, in spite of the weather. She just finished a pleasant trip to visit her grandmother in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang, some 400 km away. The happy family was on the D3115 bullet train, destined for home.
Unfortunately, for the baby girl, the train's destination was not home, but a disaster.
At 8:38 p.m., the D301 high-speed train from Beijing to Fuzhou, in southeast China's Fujian Province, crashed into D3115, heading toward Fuzhou. The collision derailed the 15th and 16th carriages of D3115 and the first four carriages of D301. Xiang's family was in the 16th carriage on D3115. It stalled at a viaduct before the crash in Lucheng, a central district in Wenzhou.
Nearby villagers, armed policemen, firefighters and medical teams worked together to quickly locate the injured for medical treatment.
Until 4 p.m. on July 24, the rescue had carried on for 20 hours in heat reaching 37 degrees centigrade.
Another hour passed, and Jiang Jianxu, the captain of a rescue team of firefighters from Lucheng, was searching in D3115. He had found twelve bodies with his teammates, but didn't give up.
Under the wreckage, a pair of little feet and a tiny hand caught Jiang's eye.
"I saw a little hand twitching slightly when I tried to clear the debris," Jiang recalled. It gave him hope that a little passenger might still be alive.
Xiang was lying on her stomach in a narrow space left open by a stainless-steel pipe above. Heavy debris was piled above her back.
Jiang's team carefully cleared the wreckage near Xiang. He held Xiang's bleeding feet with one hand, and extended the other hand under her body, trying to support and carry her out.
"I felt a warm fluid seeping onto the hand under her. I was surprised and relieved when I realized that she had peed," Jiang said.
The will to survive
At 10 p.m. on July 23, informed of the grievous accident, an emergency medical team was organized by the No.118 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army in Wenzhou. They arrived at the location of the collision quickly.
Luo Xinghua was the lead doctor of the medical team.
Luo's team just came back to the tent for a short rest after working intensely for 18 hours. Upon hearing that there might be a girl still alive, they dashed to the track again at 5 p.m. on July 24.
"I never ran as fast as I did that time. I felt like I just breathed in but not out," said Xu Hui, a nurse in the medical team.
At 5:17 p.m., over twenty hours after the crash, Xiang was finally extracted from the wreckage, to cheers from all around.
She was in terrible condition physically and mentally, trapped for too long and suffering from heat exposure. Severely dehydrated, the poor child was stained with blood and mud from head to toe. She was pale and restless.
There were no serious injuries to Xiang's head or vital organs except for her lacerations to her left leg.
In the ambulance, Xiang awoke from her coma. Xu Hui kept talking to her like she would to her own five-year-old son. "My dear baby, we are all with you. You'll make it!" She tried to motivate Xiang to remain conscious.
"Little by little, the girl seemed understand my words and asked for water meekly," Xu said. "I dripped some glucose fluid into her mouth through an intravenous fluid pipe. She couldn't drink so much in such a badly dehydrated condition. When I was going to pull the pipe out, she snapped at it unexpectedly." Xu was touched to see such vital energy burst from such a weak body.