Firefighter rescued as a baby in 2008 Sichuan earthquake pays it forward in rescue of his own

  • A firefighter who rescued a baby in the recent earthquake in Sichuan, China revealed that he was also rescued by a firefighter as a child in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
  • Sichuan was hit by a 6.6-magnitude earthquake on Monday which was followed by aftershocks continuing into Tuesday, killing 86 people and injuring more than 270.
  • The firefighter was photographed holding the baby and helping villagers.

Photos of a firefighter cradling a two-month-old survivor of the recent Sichuan earthquake led to the revelation that the man was also rescued as a child by a firefighter in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan on Monday, followed by 2.9-magnitude aftershocks throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. State media reported on Thursday that the death toll has risen to 86 people while 270 more have been injured and 35 remain missing.

Photographs taken on Tuesday showed forest firefighter Zhang Zili from Wenchuan County, Sichuan, cradling a two-month-old survivor in Luding County. The baby boy was being carried by his grandmother when Zhang offered to help the exhausted woman, who had reportedly been walking for seven hours.

Firefighter Zhang Zili carrying a two-month-old baby to safety. Photo: Xinhua

The baby is the youngest known survivor of the earthquake. His father is also a firefighter who was working in a different region when the earthquake had hit.

Zhang’s colleague Peng Ke took the photos, later stating that he wanted to “record great moments during the rescue.”

It was later revealed that Zhang, who is now in his early 20s, had been rescued as a child during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Zhang, who was a primary student at the time, was rescued by firefighters after his family’s home collapsed. Zhang recalled the firefighters building tents for his family and sending necessary supplies such as instant noodles.

The Sichuan earthquake in May 2008 was recorded as one of the deadliest ones in China with a magnitude of 8.0, killing nearly 90,000 people.

“At that time, I decided to be a firefighter when I grew up and to rescue people like they did,” Zhang said per South China Morning Post.

Zhang became a firefighter in May of this year. He has been dubbed “Brother Wenchuan” by Chinese social media. 

In response to the media attention that he has been receiving, Zhang stated: “It’s not a big deal. This is my responsibility. My colleagues are all Brother Wenchuans.”



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