China earthquake: Man rescued after 17 days lost in mountains

By Elsa Maishman

BBC News

Rescue workers after earthquake in Sichuan (5 September 2022)Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The earthquake triggered a huge rescue operation

A man lost in the mountains for 17 days after an earthquake in south-west China has been rescued.

The 6.6 magnitude quake hit Sichuan province on 5 September, killing 93 people and injuring more than 400.

Gan Yu stayed behind to help others at the hydropower plant where he was on duty, but then struggled to escape through the rough terrain as he had lost his glasses, local media reported.

He was found alive but injured by a local villager on Wednesday.

Mr Gan and his colleague Luo Yong stayed behind at the Wandong hydropower plant on 5 September to give first aid to injured colleagues and to help prevent flooding by releasing water from a dam.

They then attempted to leave, walking for about 20km (12 miles) in the mountains around the plant.

But Mr Gan, who is severely short-sighted and had lost his glasses in the quake, struggled to navigate the terrain, state-owned China National Radio (CNR) reported.

Rescuers were searching the area for survivors, and the two men tried unsuccessfully to signal for help.

“We took our clothes off, strung them on tree branches and waved them around,” Mr Luo told CNR.

Eventually Mr Luo went to look for help, leaving Mr Gan with a makeshift bed of moss and bamboo leaves and some wild fruit and bamboo shoots to eat.

Mr Luo was found on 8 September after using a fire to attract the rescuers’ attention. But by the time his former companion’s shelter was found three days later, Mr Gan was no longer there.

Rescuers discovered only discarded clothing, and believed he may have died of hypothermia.

This week a farmer who lives near the plant joined the search, using his local knowledge. After a few hours he heard Mr Gan’s cries and found him under trees.

Rescuers later reached the scene and flew Mr Gan to a hospital, where he was treated for broken bones.

Media caption,

Watch: Sichuan’s deadly earthquake caused widespread devastation

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