[China] On July 28, there was a heavy rain storm in Yongji county, Jilin province. A flood followed. The media reports focused on the more than 7,000 drums of chemical materials being washed down into the Songhua River. However, the most stunning video was one taken by an Internet user.
This video was posted onto the Internet on July 29. The video was taken in a residential neighborhood in which the water was rushing down the street at one storey high. In the first part of the video, a father and a son were seen grabbing onto a floating bag and being washed down. Someone tried unsuccessfully to pull them out of the water. Someone in the background was heard saying: "He is still a child ... Finished! Finished! Finished!"
Then the video showed a man coming down in the water successfully grabbing a stick that a resident stuck out for him. The man was able to climb inside the second floor through the window. Then someone yelled out: "There is another one behind." This was a woman. At first, she seemed to have grabbed the stick. The spectators clapped. But she did not hold on firmly and she was washed away.
Yesterday afternoon 46-year-old Wan Xiujiang stood by the window to re-enact how he was pulled out of the water. He was the man in the video.
It was 7:30am on July 28 when he and many residents living in the bungalows on the north side of the railroad track were awakened by calls of "The flood is coming!" There were 49 different families in living in these bungalows. Most of them were retired railroad workers.
The house door could not be opened even as the water level kept rising. So Wan Xiujiang, Wang Zhiying, Li Baofu and their wives got onto the roof. Each of them grabbed a wooden board to hold over their heads to stave off the pouring rain.
"I pulled the other two families out." Wan Xiujiang recalled. He and his wife Zhao Chunyan were together. "I pulled and pushed at the iron window. I broke the wood support. We got out. I had no idea where I got that strength from."
The water was coming from both sides. A huge wave knocked Zhao Chunyan off. She did not know how to swim, so she quickly vanished. Wan Xiujiang drank a few mouthfuls of water and was then carried towards the residential neighborhood known as Water Shore Famous Capital more than 200 meters away.
In at most one minute, Wang Xiujiang was carried through the entire resident compound all the way to Building 7 on the outskirt. Almost nobody lived there. One of the units contained the project engineering department which was responsible for post-sales quality services. Six people were inside: the manager Wang Hailong, two workers Wang Yuegang and Lu Xu, one accountant, one treasurer and one apartment unit owner.
Before Wan Xiujiang reached this point, the six had missed the chance of saving a father and son. Therefore they changed methods: Wang Yuegang went upstairs and threw a rope in the water. 42-year-old Wang Hailong and others thrust the yardstick for measuring building height out the window with the fire hose hanging off it.
When the group spotted Wan Xiujiang, Lu Xu yelled out aloud: "Swim towards here!" Wan Xiujiang heard him.
Although the measuring yardstick was bent by the strain of the effort, Wan Xiujiang was pulled inside the house. He fell down on the floor and spit out some black mud. Without this group to help him, he would have surely been carried right down the river and met the same fate as Liu Fenglan.
61-year-old retired factory worker Liu Fenglan was wearing a red-purple sweater. Her husband Wang Xiaoying gave it to her. It was raining outside and he wanted to keep her warm. Pretty soon they were swamped by a big wave and washed away separately.
Several seconds after Wan Xiujiang was rescued, Liu Fenglan appeared in the video. From the background someone yelled: "There is another one behind!" Once again the rescuers stuck out their yardstick. Liu Fenglan appeared to have caught it and the spectators applauded happily. But she did not have the strength to hold on and she was carried away in the water until she vanished from view. Someone in the background sighed: "It is so heart-breaking!"
It was a mere twenty seconds between the rescue of Wan Xiujiang and the disappearance of Liu Fenglan.
With the yardstick now broken, Wang Hailong and others knocked the window out and fastened the rope to a safety helmet. In the afternoon, they caught a man. Before they even pulled him out of the water, a police motor boat had arrived. They also saw a deceased female lying on a piece of wood being washed away.
All three men in that bungalow were rescued. But they had all lost their wives.
Sea Coast Famous Capital was completed in June this year. Very few families have moved in so far. Our reporter went there yesterday afternoon. The buildings had suffered extensive damages, with the watermark being more than 3 meters high. Several of the buildings have been condemned with the sign: "After examination by experts, this building cannot be used for now. All residents must evacuate immediately."
According to information, the father and son in the video were eventually rescued. A local news report said: "Wang Zhimin and his won were trapped on a tree for more than ten hours before being saved. He said: 'The house collapsed and we were carried away in the water. We grabbed a tree and climbed up. The People's Liberation Army saved us. It was very dangerous. We almost died.'"
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