Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / China / Rescue work underway after Gansu earthquake

Quake recovery starts with a bowl of hot beef noodles

By MA JINGNA in Linxia, Gansu and CHEN MEILING | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-23 07:02
Share - WeChat
A volunteer (second from right), makes noodles for local residents at a relocation site in Minhe county, Qinghai province, on Wednesday. The county was also hit by Monday's magnitude-6.2 earthquake, the epicenter of which was in Jishishan county, Gansu province. ZHANG HONGXIANG/XINHUA

In freezing temperatures, a simple bowl of beef noodles brings hope to thousands of residents who lost their homes in the magnitude-6.2 earthquake in Gansu province's Jishishan county on Monday.

A team of volunteers came to the relocation sites in the county to serve noodles free of charge. The scenes are characterized by steam rising from hot soup, cooks waving their arms and noodle dough flying.

Despite being shaken by quake aftershocks, Ma Sadong kept cooking beef noodles.

Ma said preparation work of beef noodles can be relatively quickly and the noodles suit the tastes of most victims, as it's a daily staple for ethnic groups in Northwest China.

"Seeing people lining up and staring eagerly at the pot, I worried about not being fast enough," Ma said.

Since they arrived at the relocation site, Ma and his colleagues from Xingda Group worked from 5 am to late night to provide up to 2,000 bowls of noodles in Dahejia township — one of the hardest-hit areas.

"With five cars, and five people squeezing into each one, we rushed from Guanghe county to the epicenter. We barely slept," said Ma, who arrived at the epicenter at 6 am on Tuesday.

The team had prepared braised beef, packed 15 bags of flour and gathered whatever cooking utensils and gas canisters they could find. Upon arrival in Dahejia, they set up tents and tables for cooking. Some quake victims rummaged through the wreckage of their homes to find chopping boards and dough makers so the cooks could serve noodles as soon as possible.

"After suffering a cold night and power and water outages, quake victims found hot beef noodles to be a great comfort," he said.

Wang Wenyu, 14, couldn't hold back her tears when picking up a bowl of noodles in her hands. "That was a horrible night. But now, I feel warm, safe and hopeful," Wenyu said.

Thirteen victims shared a single tent at the relocation site. They were offered rice and vegetables by the local government because they couldn't cook themselves. Carbon monoxide poisoning poses a danger in small enclosures.

In the dark of night after the quake, there was no power. Ma and his team parked in front of a noodle stall and used the headlights for illumination.

In the days since the quake, they have commuted between Guanghe and Dahejia to fetch more food ingredients, only catching about four hours of sleep per day.

"None of us complain. We consider it an honorable task and a responsibility to contribute to our hometown and the people," he said. His company is offering noodles at three relocation sites, each producing around 1,000 bowls per day.

On Friday, when this year's Winter Solstice fell, Ma purchased instant frozen dumplings with beef and Chinese chives, as it is a tradition for many in North China to have dumplings on this day.

As of 8 am on Friday, the earthquake death toll had reached 117, with the number of injured persons standing at 781. As of Friday noon, the number of relocation sites had reached 311, and 112,346 people had been transferred to safe places.

An online video from China Central Television showing volunteer Ma Wenjun making beef noodles has so far received more than 1 million views.

"There are always kindhearted people proving there is still a lot of warmth in this world," said a netizen commenting on the video.

Another said, "A bowl of beef noodles truly warms people's hearts. Here's a salute to those who silently contribute."

Facing a news camera, Ma said, "It will take time to rebuild the house, but it doesn't matter. We will rebuild everything from scratches."

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349