Sirens wail, national flags fly at half-mast, Chinese people from across the vast territory engage in mourning. The sad moment on April 21 has instilled in us a heartbreaking sense of deja vu, as national mourning took place to convey sincere condolences to the Qinghai quake victims.
The memory of the Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, remains fresh. Now our country has new scars, as the 7.1-magnitude quake, which struck the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai Province, on April 14, killed thousands, injured tens of thousands and displaced even more.
A rescue mission 4,000 meters above sea level is challenging. This one has been hampered by frequent aftershocks, high altitudes, thin air, freezing temperatures, rugged terrain, inhospitable weather and disrupted telecommunications, all adding to the complexity of relief operations. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of rescuers, including troops, armed police, firefighters, special police units, and earthquake and mine accident rescue specialists, have all been searching for survivors and providing help in Yushu.
Meanwhile, relief materials are being transported to the quake zone nonstop. At present, most quake-affected people in Yushu have been provided with tents, as well as food, clean water and other basic needs. The situation will improve as more relief materials and donations from all walks of life pour in.
Epidemic prevention teams have also been dispatched to expand monitoring for the possible spread of disease. Tibetan cultural and religious relics are being excavated and protected. Temporary schools are also being built for pupils.
The relief work reflects the nation's strong disaster-relief capability and mobilization. It also showcases the effective disaster-relief coordination of the military, police and government departments. Under the leadership of the Central Government, personnel, equipment, facilities and resources have been efficiently coordinated for the rescue effort. The presence of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao at the rescue site gave the rescue efforts even greater strength.
When fighting against the natural disaster, we have again witnessed moving moments as people help each other, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. In addition to volunteers at the rescue site, many others, some from distant locations, have extended their helping hands to people in Yushu. Life goes on, even after an earthquake. A reconstruction plan for Yushu is already on the government agenda.
We have suffered and survived first the Wenchuan earthquake, and now the Yushu earthquake. Disaster teaches us valuable lessons, and now we are even more prepared and better armed. At this sad moment, we know disaster occurs. More important, however, is the knowledge that what does not kill us can only make us stronger.