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Couple Frantic to Find Loved Ones in Rubble

We are marking a milestone, 50 years of NPR, with a look back at stories from the archive.

I'll never forget Melissa Block's compassion and steadiness while reporting on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. I was in college and had just discovered NPR. I was floored by the reporting. You didn't need to know the language to know the agony of those parents outside the collapsed apartment. Melissa allowed herself to fully feel the gravity of the situation and it was one of the first times I realized the power of the audio medium. It was an intimate moment, and one I really remember. – Emily Kwong, Science Reporter and Host, Short Wave Podcast

More than 600,000 people lived in the city of Dujiangyan before the earthquake. Now there is no telling how many are dead. Much of the city lies in ruins. Hospitals, schools, apartment buildings were flattened by the force of the earthquake.

On Monday, Fu Guanyu dropped off her young son, Wang Zhilu, at his grandparents' house so she could go to work. Minutes later, the earthquake hit.

Wang Wei stands atop the rubble of his family's  apartment building in Dujiangyan, China.
Andrea Hsu, NPR /
Wang Wei stands atop the rubble of his family's apartment building in Dujiangyan, China.

She rushed back home and saw their apartment building in ruins. She says soldiers came right away to help, but they had no equipment.

Two days later, the heavy machinery is on the way. As an excavator clears a path, Fu and her husband Wei Wang search the debris, calling for their son.

After a long while, the workers stop. They have found bodies.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.

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