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To save lives is their mission

06-30-2010 10:35 BJT

BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Every year, 23-year-old Chen Xiayong, together with other soldiers of the special corps, spends about 20 days training to drive speedboats on the Qinshan Lake in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province.

But when Chen and his mates were ordered to leave on a mission to rescue 100,000 people in 41 flooded villages, with heavy rains forecast for the next three days, they knew no training could have prepared them for the situation.

The special corps of the Jiangxi military command were the first to reach the site of the breached Fuhe River dike on June 21 and began evacuating villagers within three hours of the breach.

"A 30-km trip on the lake usually takes only an hour, but when we were driving the speedboat in the flooded area, the same distance took us more than two hours to cover," said Chen, who has served in the Jiangxi military command for five years.

He said he had to constantly switch off the boat's engine to get rid of the straws that got entangled.

When the boats entered the narrow laneways between the houses, the water reeked of feces, he said.

"There must be a toilet flooded nearby," Chen said.

When the engine wouldn't work in shallow waters, he jumped off the boat and pushed it forward.

"Many of our team members suffered from foot injuries," said Zhang Jin, battalion commander of Chen's squad. "Eczema is a common disease that occurs when soldiers stand in the water for a long period of time."

Zhang was coordinating the rescue work and temporarily lost his voice after four days of shouting commands from the shore.


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