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Survivor of quake may recover soon

By Huang Zhiling | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-09-28 23:31

Gan Yu, who was injured in an earthquake and lived alone for 17 days in the wild, is expected to soon be fully recovered. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

In a miracle of survival, a man was injured in an earthquake and lived alone for 17 days in the wild, subsisting on fruit as he struggled with a broken leg and fractured ribs.

Now, he may be discharged from a hospital this week after days of treatment in the intensive care ward.

Gan Yu, a 28-year-old hydropower station employee in Luding county, Sichuan province, was missing after the magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the county on Sept 5. During his ordeal, he lost about 20 kilograms, but he is expected to soon be fully recovered.

Gan was found alive on Sept 21, and was taken to Sichuan University's West China Hospital.

Reclining on a hospital bed and wearing eyeglasses, Gan seems to think clearly, and smiles and speaks softly to visitors. Were it not for the bandages on his body, one would hardly imagine he had just survived a harrowing trauma.

After the earthquake, Gan and 41-year-old co-worker Luo Yong had cleared away rubble in the Wandong Hydropower Station to save another worker. They also pulled open the floodgates in time to avert a disaster that could have washed away farmland and houses.

But things got worse for Gan: He lost his eyeglasses and couldn't see well.

Guided by Luo, he walked 20 or 30 kilometers from the station. But he became too weak to go farther and decided to stay where he was and wait for Luo to return with rescuers. Luo was found on Sept 8, but rescuers were unable to find Gan.

Gan feared that Luo had died, so he determined to head back to the station to wait for help.

Without his glasses, he fell down and got up many times. He did not know the time, as he had also lost his cellphone and didn't have a watch. When darkness fell, he lay down on the ground and slept fitfully.

"I didn't walk at night and stayed under the trees. My leg had been hurt by a falling stone, and I could only walk slowly during the daytime," Gan said.

For the first few days, he was able to find a stream to drink water. Later, he could only collect rainwater from moss. He ate wild kiwi fruit in the woods.

When the wild fruit and moss were no longer available, he dug up roots and drank his own urine to survive. Many times, Gan said, he could clearly hear the sound of a helicopter.

Gan Yu, who was injured in an earthquake and lived alone for 17 days in the wild, is expected to soon be fully recovered. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

He described his desperate thoughts: "I can't give up. My family is waiting for me and people must be looking for me, I want to live. Mother's voice, childhood companions, Grandmother's smiling face kept flashing through my mind. When I was about to despair, I talked to the grass and trees," Gan said.

His salvation came on Sept 21, when Ni Taigao, a 58-year-old ethnic Yi villager in Shimian county, heard his calls for help on a mountain slope.

He had lost 20 kilograms in the ordeal but was in stable condition. A preliminary examination found multiple soft tissue contusions, rib and leg fractures and a serious infection contracted by staying in the wild for nine rainy days.

As his condition improved, he was transferred from the ICU to a general ward on Sunday and could be discharged this week, according to his mother, Chen Weishu.

Dong Xiaohong contributed
to this story.

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