Pregnant woman rescued during China quake delivers baby

18th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Baby girl born after mother-to-be was trapped under rubble – a special blessing in an otherwise overwhelming tragedy...

18 June 2008

CHINA - A mother-to-be trapped under rubble for 50 hours in last month's Sichuan earthquake delivered a healthy baby girl Wednesday, in a tender coda to the massive tragedy that killed almost 70,000 people.

A baby girl named Love

Zhang Xiaoyan named her pink-cheeked, seven pound, four-ounce (three point three kilogram) girl Ai, or love, in honour of the rescue workers and strangers who have showered her with kindness, gifts and VIP treatment in the month since she was pulled out of the debris.

"Even if I didn't make it, I just wanted my baby to survive. I was holding out hope during the earthquake that this day would come," Zhang, 35, said Wednesday as she reclined in a hospital bed in the Urumqi Maternal Care Hospital in her home region of Xinjiang in China's far west. Her daughter, swaddled in a pink floral blanket, lay beside her.

The dramatic rescue

Zhang's rescue after 50 hours under the rubble set off celebrations among their rescuers, who feared the severely weakened structure could come crashing down at any minute. Zhang and her 63-year-old mother had been trapped under about 18 feet (six meters) of concrete slabs and other debris in their half-collapsed seven-story apartment building in the town of Dujiangyan.

Zhang's dramatic rescue was a rare bright spot after the May 12 earthquake that ravaged towns throughout mountainous parts of Sichuan province.

The image of rescue workers pulling the eight-month pregnant Zhang onto a stretcher two days after the quake, her stomach protruding from under a blue sweater and pink pants was played on TV screens and newspapers across the country.

Sun Guoli, the fire chief of Chengdu who was overseeing the operation, called it "a miracle of life, using one's life to save a life." Watchers burst into cheers and applause when Zhang was finally pulled out and taken away in an ambulance.

A celebrity since she was taken to the hospital, Zhang said she was grateful for all the care and attention she has received from the medical staff, who banded together to donate new sets of clothes and presents for her and the baby.

The family is now among the 5 million quake homeless, and Zhang said she plans to stay in Xinjiang with her mother until living conditions improve in Sichuan. She had moved there after high school in Xinjiang, and met her husband there.

Her husband, Pan Yuncheng, a native of Sichuan, remains in Dujiangyan where he is living in a refugee camp.

The couple talked to each other briefly by telephone Wednesday during an interview set up by a local radio station.

"I want to thank all the people who were helpful. It was very moving," he said, as his daughter gave out a loud yell over the phone.

By David Wivell


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