记者: Thane Burnett, Toronto Sun 编译: 安婆婆编辑部
中国政府对于7.9级的512大地震官方记录时间是从14:28开始的；然而钟先生和其余在Loiand Scui Gin发电厂的工作人员距离震中如此之近，他们在整个中国感受到地震的8分钟前就赶到了地动山摇。
Eyes on Earth’s wrath
Father of T.O. man has ringside seat at Sichuan quake and records an astonishing tale
Wed, June 18, 2008
By THANE BURNETT
CHENGDU — Trapped for 10 days in the Stone Age, chinese engineer Yi Kun Zhong used the only thing he had in his pocket to chronicle his struggle to survive.
From the very centre of last month’s earthquake in the heart of China, he wrote a remarkable diary on his cell phone. And one of the first things he did after he was airlifted back to a shattered but modern civilization, was to press “thin” and transmit it all to his worried son, waiting in Canada.
The journal begins during the eight minutes the country will never forget.
The Chinese government officially began registering the 7.9 magnitude quake at 14:28 on May 12; however, Zhong was standing so close to the quake’s epicentre that he and the other men working at the Loiand Scui Gin power plant felt the mountain shake eight minutes before the rest of the country.
At 66 years old, Zhong is a practical and meticulous man. He makes notes and calculations about most of the important things in his life.
He was planning for a half day at work when he went to inspect a friend’s equipment. He was almost about to leave when the ground beneath their feet began to move. Boulders — some of them five or six tons — broke off from the surrounding mountains and barreled down into the valley.
At the very start, the 28 workers thought the quake would pass quickly. Instead, they had front-row seats to a historic shift in the earth.
The planet was telling them it was pissed off.
“There was a sound coming — a very terrible sound,” he recalls as we sit on the porch at his home in the city of Du Jiang Yan yesterday.
“It was like a train’s voice, from far coming near.”
The sky, growing dark, tried to compete with the chaos in the ground.
Then the wave hit — a wall of pressure, the senior engineer explained.
Everyone sat on the ground, covering their heads from the wrath around them. From their terrified huddle, they watched two nearby mountains move and smash into one another.
A family of peasants who lived in the 150 metres between had no chance at all. They were too slow. The moving mountains were too fast.
“Although the sky is dark, we can see a light … like fire,” Zhong recalls.
The pressure from the ground was causing the area to glow red — as if it were going to open wide and swallow them them all.
The mountains continued to shake off prehistoric dander, filling the ground with rolling rocks. Zhong was hit, along with many others, and injured his back and feet.
The sky began to brighten, but it only gave them a clearer view of the struggle ahead. They were hiding under heavy equipment when the red dust began to hit the ground — almost 23 cm thick and covering everything. Not knowing what record would be left, he took pictures of himself with his cellphone.
By then the tremors were constant — arriving by the thousands to pick at the bones of what the major quake had left behind — and the men soon realized they were trapped. The merging mountains, a river and a blocked roadway had conspired to keep the witnesses where they were.
The power plant was dead, and supplies — other than a few bags of rice they shared with a local farmer — were sparse. But worse, they had no idea what had happened to the outside world.
Then that first night, the rains came. The workers took shelter in a farmer’s pig barn, which stood while mountains fell.
“That night it was so dark we could not see our five fingers in front of our face,” he remembers.
By then he had started his first-hand account on his phone, though no signal could get out to deliver the statement.
They woke up on the second day to more tremors. But the men feared something even worse might be coming their way. Guarding the valley is China’s highest water-dam — a gateway for millions of litres of water. They worried the structure would break and wash them all away. So they looked for higher ground — the healthier carrying the weak.
In the days to follow, they survived on rice soup. But they weren’t prepared to just wait for death to find them. They picked the four strongest men who, with a rope, a knife, some rice and two eggs each, were to climb out of the mountains to the outside world.
“I worried for my family more than I worried about me,” Zhong tells me.
So he wrote a note to his wife and two grown children to say he was still alive and tucked it into the pocket of one of the brave four. Those men would later make it out alive — but barely.
On the third day a farmer had found a broken 20-year-old panda radio which Zhong and the men fixed. The only voice they could hear on it was the official transmission from the Chinese government telling them they were not alone and suffering. But while they heard of troops fanning out across Sichuan province, they knew it would be difficult to find them.
The days rolled by as did the constant tremors. The men ate their daily allotment of 150-grams of rice. Zhong worked on his diary. And they watched the flies gather over dead bodies.
It took a week for the first soldiers to find them — special forces troops carrying rice over the mountains. A medic tended to the wounded, but they all still needed to get out of the mountains. Zhong asked that he be left behind but the young troops insisted on carrying him. In fact, they used a line from a much loved Chinese soap opera — “never give up … never drop off.”
4 HOURS TO MOVE 3 KM
Amid the shifting debris, it took four hours to move a mere 3 km.
By May 19, they had reached a community where they could organize a military helicopter out, but even that would take two more days. When it finally lifted off, Zhong — still writing his diary of life at the centre of the earth — was among the first to fly out. As soon a he was able, he pressed “send” and the amazing account appeared almost instantly in Ryan Zhong’s email folder in Canada.
Zhong’s 32-year-old son, who lives in Toronto, was worried about his missing father but somehow knew he would survive to tell a remarkable tale.
“I couldn’t understand all he went through until I read his words,” says Ryan. “Suddenly it was all very real to me.”