20 Cases of Successful Self-rescue
13. Surviving in a Small Bay
The following is a story about a Professor Chen of a college; before the earthquake, he lived in the living quarter of the college. (XI intensity)
In that summer, water supply was often cut off in the building Professor Chen lived, so the inhabitants had to get op in the midnight to store water. At about 3:30 during that night, Professor Chen got up to store water and the earthquake happened right at this moment. The earthquake was rather strong at the very beginning, and people could not stand still at all. He wanted to awake other people at first, but as soon as he passed the threshold, the building started to fell down. Bricks fell on his head and he covered his head with his hands. He tried to crouch on the floor when he heard the crackling of the building. Then, he fell down together with the house. When he fell to the height of the second floor, the roof of his house was thrown away and the walls were all collapsed. But the slab he stood on continued to fall and then it fell down on a pile of debris. He was still crouching there. Everywhere was full of broken bricks. His face, his back and hands were all injured. But his bones were kept intact. After the earthquake, the sky was still dark. People were crying and screaming everywhere and he could see nothing because of darkness. Professor Chen moved away the bricks and debris that covered him and crawled to spacious ground. His family were all buried under the debris.
The building he lived had brick walls and slab roofs. It had no framework and thus could not resist any earthquake. The building fell quickly but not completely. The Southern side of the building was all large rooms thus fell down completely; in the northern side of the building, the rooms were all small bays such as kitchens and toilets. The first floor of the building was intact, the second floor was basically intact, the Eastern and Western sides of the third floor collapsed and some small bays in the fourth floor were also kept well. Because Professor Chen was in the small bay, the roof could only being pushed aside thus he survived.
Altogether 221 people lived in that building, and 136 of them were killed in the earthquake. Among the 85 survivors, besides those who were tossed out of the rooms and those who ran from larger rooms into small rooms, most of them survived because they lived in the small bays in the Northern side.