80 hours: Fighting to the very end

2008-05-21 01:33:07 GMT       2008-05-21 09:33:07 (Beijing Time)        China Daily      

Chen Jian, 26, continued talking to rescuers and reporters as he was pulled out from the rubble of a collapsed building in Beichuan, Sichuan province, 80 hours after the May 12 earthquake caused the structure to buckle and collapse.

"I don't want my child to be born without a father I am so lucky to be alive I have been trapped under three pre-cast slabs for three days without anything to eat or drink I survived this disaster because I'm destined for good fortune in the future I have to be strong for my wife and unborn child, for everyone who loves me I have no wild ambitions, I just want a peaceful life with my wife "

Rescue workers discovered Chen buried in the rubble when they noticed his arms poking out of the building's ruins.

He says his powerful will to live came from his powerful love for his family.

"The first two days were the most difficult days of my life; I felt so desperate," Chen said calmly as rescuers hauled the slabs off his body. "I was afraid I wouldn't survive and almost gave up, but when I thought of my wife and unborn child, I told myself: 'You have to hold on'."

At that moment, rescuers discovered the full scale of Chen's predicament: His body was firmly sandwiched between two slabs. Although he could not move his head, he continued chatting as cheerfully as ever.

He asked a reporter to call his wife, whom he had married last year, and tell her he was fine and she should not worry.

He even encouraged the rescuers: "You have to be tough, too. Don't be afraid of trouble."

One minute melded into the next as rescuers used special equipment to hoist the slabs off the man. It was getting dark.

Chen eventually succumbed to delirium. He began repeating "the hoisting jack" in a quavering voice and sometimes also said: "A boat is coming to pick me up."

Around 8:40 pm, Chen was finally pulled from the rubble. However, after 80 hours of fighting against death, Chen lost the battle.

His wife and unborn baby are still waiting for him at a rescue center in Mianyang.

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