10 years after: Wenchuan earthquake photographer remembered

Updated 2018-05-10 10:41:02 China Daily

(L)A small boy carried on a stretcher salutes to rescuers. (File photo taken by Yang Weihua)

The photo of a small boy carried on a stretcher after his rescue from the wreckage of a devastating earthquake in Southwest China's Sichuan province moved millions and brought tributes to the photographer, Yang Weihua. But Yang wished it wasn't the tragic earthquake that brought him professional tributes. Deeply affected, he wanted to take more photos of the area in the years that followed as he pursued a sense of redemption to ease his mind of the scenes of horror.

Yang worked for the Mianyang Evening News in Sichuan province when the 8.0 magnitude Wenchuan earthquake occurred on the afternoon of May 12, 2008. He drove to Beichuan county town that evening.

When he arrived at Beichuan Middle School, which suffered heavy damage in the earthquake that killed more than 80,000 in the province, at about 11 pm, he clearly heard voices miserably crying for help. Yang dropped his cameras to help save students as old as his son.

He used his hands and wooden sticks to help move concrete blocks, and a kitchen knife to cut the broken legs of people to pull them out. He felt helpless in the face of such a massive natural disaster.

A young female student in the rubble held onto his legs, hoping he could help her. But by the time Yang, who helping another student at that time, turned to assist her, the girl had died.

Yang felt guilty, and when he returned to the site one month later, he bowed three times to honor her memory and cried.

On the morning of May 13, Yang was searching for a high spot to take photos when he heard cries of a boy, later identified as Lang Zheng and saved by soldiers.

Yang spent a whole month there recording the devastation and revisited the area in the following years.

In the six years after the earthquake, until he was diagnosed with liver cancer, Yang used his cameras to record the lives of the survivors and the restoration work in their community. He spent three Spring Festivals with local residents in tents and new homes.

In July 2013, when a major flood hit Beichuan, Yang took photos wearing a waterproof covering to enter the area, despite the danger. His son, Yang Bo, worked with him, but that was the last time they worked together.

Three months later, Yang was diagnosed with liver cancer. Despite two operations, he died in February 2015, at 51 years old.

Also in the News

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time
Showbiz2016/06/16 13:58October 21 2018 20:53:54

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time

Attending Shanghai International Film Festival, Nicole Kidman talks about her role in "Grace of Monaco".

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts
Also in the News2014/05/01 12:16October 21 2018 20:53:54

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'
Also in the News2014/04/18 13:18October 21 2018 20:53:54

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'

Hollywood star Johnny Depp's speech in the upcoming new film "Transcendence" has been disclosed on Friday, April 11th.

China World Business Sports Showbiz Audio
C4 My Chinese Life The Sound Stage China Revealed Showbiz Video Travel Video
China World Fun Travel Entertainment Sports
Beijing Shanghai Guangzhou
Live Music Opera & Classical Movies Traditional Shows Exhibitions
Learn Chinese:
Chinese Studio Living Chinese Everyday Chinese Just For Fun Chinese Culture Buzzwords