A netizen with the online name Xiaojiu posted the following photo essay on Chinese pro-military bbs tiexue.com. He recorded his volunteer relief adventure in the quake zone, and his experiences as one of the first volunteers with the soldiers doing rescue work. Selectively translated by M.J:
Troops! That’s right, I met the first rescue team headed for the Hanwang mountain region, from somewhere within Yunnan, named Wumeng Iron Army, 300 men carrying only light loads on the move.
I grabbed a major: “Major, I am a volunteer, I have a certain amount of knowledge regarding the wilderness. I hope to be able to go with you into the mountains.”
“Bring your perishables and follow us.”
And as such, I began a journey that I shall never forget.
Iron chain bridge broken in half by falling debris from mountains.
At the riverbank in front, we met with a long stretch of area scattered with rocks on the mountainside that now seemed to drop vertically into the river. And there, my fate crossed with small rocks that were beginning to shift and slide down the one to two hundred meter tall mountain.
A rock larger than the size of my head swooped vertically toward my head, scraping by my temples. If it weren’t for the safety hat, I would have been a goner. And my tomb would just have been where I was crushed, I would have been buried right there.
This is also the reason after I reached safety that I began drafting my will.
We belong to the troops of Mianzhu mountain region that were clearing the paths for others, operating the first phase of clearing the roads – as everyone was doing. This is a photo of a villager who dared to follow the troops into the mountains after they received their orders.
Dangerous bridge rickety 'cause of the earthquake. In groups of twos, we cross in order. The bridge can support at most around eight people, really can’t add more people anymore.
The bridge is too high, thirty meters above the water’s surface, at least.
The ratio between planks and gap is 1 to 1.
When one looks at the planks, he cannot help but also stare into the river thirty meters below, plus the howling of the wind.
Two words: absolute terror.
The troop can only manage to go forward carefully.