Peru man survives China earthquake in the mountains and helps others

Living in Peru
Israel J. Ruiz

Juan Cardenas, a Peruvian that experienced the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that destroyed a region of small cities and towns in China, affirms that fate saved him.

Although the Peruvian consulate in Beijing, some 1545 km (960 miles) northeast of the epicenter, stated that there were no Peruvians living in the province of Sichuan, a correspondent for El Comercio daily located Juan Cardenas and confirmed he was alive.

"It was our destiny. Every Saturday three friends and I go on a motorcycle trip, but this time we decided to go on Monday – the day the earthquake occurred – to Dujiangyan Mountains, near the epicenter," said Cardenas.

Cardenas explains that as he and his friends had been driving in circles for hours searching for the path to the top of the mountain, the shaking started and it was evident that a landslide had begun.

"We started running down the mountain and found ourselves at the edge of a river, the path across had been blocked by debris and rubble so we crossed a bridge to an open area," said the Peruvian, who has been teaching English in China since 2000.

"Other people began crossing the bridge as well. There were aftershocks every five or ten minutes," Cardenas explained.

"It began to get dark so we collected food from neighbor’s houses and began cooking for everyone and built shelter, five provisional tents," said Cardenas, explaining that fortunately he had a first aid kit with him and was able to help those with minor injuries.

Cardenas and the group survived the cold and moist night by forming a circle to keep warm.

"At that moment it didn’t matter if you were Chinese, American or Peruvian. We were a group of human beings in a circle of life."

The next morning the group set off for the city. Cardenas explains that his group met with others along the way until a massive crowd of people had formed, all making there way to the city.

"There were a lot of elderly people, children and injured people in the group so we had to walk slowly."

"We couldn’t help everyone but we made sure an elderly woman got to her home in Chengdu."