On the plane, I originally wanted to rest, but couldn't sleep a wink. In the preceding days, I had watched too much news about the earthquake. I knew that the death toll was rising steadily, that most of the buildings had been reduced to ruins. I saw footage of the relief workers rescuing people from beneath the rubble, and saw the tear-streaked faces of the refugees searching for their missing loved ones. As the clock ticked away – 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours – I never lost hope of finding more survivors. I had a gut feeling that many lives were waiting to be saved from beneath the rubble.
In such a severe earthquake, buildings are like dominoes, toppling one after another within a matter of seconds. But the earthquake's destruction reaches further than this, and if precautions are not taken, water pollution can easily arise as a secondary impact and lead to even more loss of life. Chemical plants have been damaged to varying degrees by the earthquake, posing a risk of chemical leakage which will eventually contaminate water sources in the region. This is why we are rushing towards the disaster zone.
Arriving in Chengdu, we found that the provincial capital was not affected much by the earthquake, but there was a great sense of fear amongst the city’s people. In the parks and open plazas of the city, many people who refuse to sleep in their apartment buildings have set up tents to sleep in. We had barely stepped into our hotel when we felt an aftershock. The entire hotel was shaking and the windows rattled loudly. The building was evacuated and we had to wait until the quake was over before going to our rooms.
Tomorrow, we will head towards Dujiangyan, one of the worst-hit areas, to begin our work.