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Bank of China Proud of Staff in Quake Area


2008-05-20

It looked as usual on May 12, 2008, until an unexpected earthquake tore up the ground and took away numerous lives. That day has been ever since imprinted in our memory. Wenchuan earthquake caused severe damage to Bank of China Sichuan Branch. The office buildings of the affiliated Dujiangyan Sub-Branch and Mianzhu Sub-Branch in Deyang collapsed, with 38 staff and customers buried in the ruins.

Faced with such an unprecedented disaster, Bank of China staff committed to disaster relief, showed full support, and sometimes even sacrificed their own life, leaving behind their heroic stories one after another...

A Man Sacrifices Himself to Save Others

On the evening of May 13, 2008, Dujiangyan City was hit by unceasing aftershocks in a heavy rain. Suddenly, a cry for help came out of the ruins of Dujiangyan Sub-Branch. After unremitting efforts were made to search the survivor buried under interlaced steel bars and cement blocks, an impressive scene shocked everyone present: beneath a man's slight body badly mangled by a collapsed cement beam, a woman was faintly crying for help. The man sacrificed himself to gave the woman a chance to live.

The surviving woman is Yang Yingzi, director of individual finance department of Bank of China Dujiangyan Sub-Branch, and the man is her colleague, Zhang Yu, a customer manager of corporate business department, who was 36 year old at that time. When he was killed in the disaster, his wife and his teenage child were waiting for him in a shelter.

Everybody present was moved by Zhang Yu's behavior. However, it was not out of the expectation of his co-workers and branch president. In their mind, Zhang Yu is exactly someone who sacrifices himself to help others. Working in the bank for more than ten years, he had been a diligent and outstanding staff of corporate business. He was kind and honest to his co-workers and always helped those in need. For customers, he was patient and considerate, putting them in the first place.

In the moment of life and death, Zhangyu sacrificed his own life to save the other. His heroic behavior have set a great example for others to follow.

Though he has passed away, his spirit shall always be with us.

A Loyal Man Assumes His Responsibility

When Fu Baizhang, director of general management department of Bank of China Mianzhu Sub-Branch in Deyang, was talking about his experience in the earthquake, fear was still lingering in his hearts. After the earthquake, he was buried in the ruins for as long as 8 hours. He was fortunately stuck between two cement slabs with no fatal injuries. At 22:30 on May 12, 2008, he was rescued, becoming the first survivor of Mianzhu Sub-Branch. But his head and waist got hurt in the disaster.

To others' surprise, Fu Baizhang did not receive any medical treatment, and went to the quake area the next morning, where the ground continued to shiver and buildings were trembling. Despite all the danger, Fu Baizhang and his co-workers were relentless in rescuing those who were buried in the ruins and saving important vouchers and account books. In their eyes, that is their responsibility.

Before excavators started working, Fu checked the places with flashlight again and again because feared there might be staff buried. Even for the bodies of co-workers, he did not allow any damage. When the bodies were excavated from the ruins, he carefully identified them and treated them regardless of the putrid smell. When vouchers and account books were saved, he led other staff to clean them up. As for the sad family members of the victims, he assisted the sub-branch leaders in comforting them.

Fu had been busy with the rescue for more than 80 hours regardless of his own pain and danger, forgetting that death had just passed by. With the help of Deyang Branch President Xiang Qianyou, we got in touch with Fu by phone. He told us, "We are the staff of Bank of China. We must join the rescue efforts when our bank sustains the disaster." Then, he added, "Excuse me, another body has just been excavated. I have to go to identify it," and left in a hurry.

Upon hearing his urgent voice on the phone, our respect for Fu rose from the bottom of our heart. What kind of spirit encouraged him? What kind of power supported him? It is the loyalty and a sense of responsibility. His loyalty to Bank of China and his co-workers best demonstrates his sense of responsibility.

They Race against Death

At 15:15 on May 12, 2008, 47 minutes after the earthquake hit Wenchuan, Xiang Qianyou, president of Deyang Branch, was coordinating efforts to confirm the damage of the sub-branches. Suddenly, a bad message came from Mianzhu Sub-Branch: its office building collapsed and about 20 people (23 according to later confirmation) were buried.

In time of disaster, faster response means more lives saved.

At 15:18, Xiang Qianyou, together with seven team members and middle-level cadres, hurried on to Mianzhu Sub-Branch. On their way, they also represent on-site control center for disaster relief and asked president of each sub-branch to send eight to ten people to rush to the rescue.

Members of the relief control center immediately started the rescue work when they arrived at the ruins of Mianzhu Sub-Branch at 16:00. Mianzhu Sub-Branch became the county's first institution conducting self-rescue after the earthquake. At 19:30, Du Shiqing, secretary of Discipline Inspection Commission of Sichuan Branch, arrived to participate in relief command on behalf of the Party Committee of the branch. The control center divided the staff into five groups: the first group was responsible for search and rescue, the second for communication and coordination, the third for comforting victims' families, the fourth for transporting the injured and bodies, and the last for logistical support.

Rescue efforts are the most urgent. Bank of China rescue team did not wait for the arrival of excavators and other rescue equipments. Instead, they immediately started rescuing the trapped people with their own hands. Braving the downpour and risking the collapse of surrounding buildings, the team searched the ruins again and again. Once there was a life signal, they dug with shovels or hands to race against time. "Faster and faster", everyone said to themselves, because their co-workers were waiting for their rescue under the ruins.

Around 20:00, external rescue teams including armed police of Deyang City and firefighters of Suining City arrived, which dramatically accelerated the progress.

At 22:30, the first trapped employee was rescued, and five minutes later, the second.

At 1:00 on May 13, Xiao Gang, Chairman of Bank of China, together with a relief leading group of head office, arrived at Mianzhu Sub-Branch, greeting the staff and giving on-the-spot guidance. Cadres and staff were encouraged and kept searching in the heavy rain.

At 3:00, another five people were found and rescued one by one (but one of them died before being excavated).

Unfortunately, the following rescue was unexpectedly difficult due to the complicated terrains and awful climate. Hours passed by without any good news. It kept raining, both commander and staff of control center insisted on fighting on the frontline. In the aftershocks and heavy rain, their clothes became wet time after time. They leaned against the ruins for a nap when they were exhausted. But once the rescue team had any new finding, they would immediately start another round of rescue. Everyone had done their best, hoping their trapped fellow staff will appear in front of them with a smile face as usual.

Their strong will led to a miracle: on the afternoon of May 15, when everyone was almost desperate, a person buried in the ruins for three days was rescued. By 20:00 on May 16, bodies of all victims were found, and Mianzhu Sub-Branch became the county's first institution finishing the self-rescue. Till then, the rescue lasted 100 hours, during which, no one left the spot. They held on with indomitable spirits until the last one was rescued, and they were highly appraised by the local governments for the fastest response, the most effective organization, the highest rate of survival and the quickest site clearing.

Looking back the efforts made in the 100 hours, Zhou Gonghua, Vice President of Bank of China Sichuan Branch, who participated in on-the-spot rescue command, said, "Thankfully, the disaster relief of Mianzhu Sub-Branch is facilitated by three elements: the effective command and coordination; the great support provided by Bank of China head office and Sichuan Branch; the never-give-up spirit of all the staff." Actually, the same is true of Dujiangyan Sub-Branch in the disaster relief. Xiong Tao, Vice President of Bank of China Sichuan Branch, who commanded the on-the-spot rescue, said, "With those three elements, the earthquake can tear down our buildings, but will never destroy our will."

They Demonstrate Integrity in Crisis

At about 14:00 on May 12, in the business department hall of Bank of China Sichuan Branch located in the downtown area of Chengdu, tellers were friendly handling transactions for customers, the lobby manager was patiently answering customers' questions, and some customers were waiting in the chairs and chatting with their friends beside them, with the speaker broadcasting the serial number of customers in queue from time to time...

Suddenly, the ground shook a bit, and then the whole building began trembling before the people in the business hall understood what had happened. Everyone's mind went blank, and a man rushed out shouting "Earthquake!" People ran out of the hall spontaneously. Some customers even had no time taking care of their bank cards or passbooks over the counters. According to the surveillance video, the business hall was in chaos, with people rushing to escape from the building.

However, the bank staff kept calm. They quickly collected the bank cards, passbooks and cash left by the customers, kept them in the drawer, locked the cash till, and then left in a hurry. After the first round of strong earthquake, the bank staff went back to the business hall at the risk of aftershocks and carefully checked and returned the bank cards, passbooks and cash to the customers. Their integrity and spirit of dedication moved every customer.

In fact, staff of Sichuan Branch also felt scared when the earthquake occurred. A staff member of the business department recalled with fear that the desks, chairs and the building were shaking and seemed to be collapsing. The first reaction was to run. But they chose to stay to protect the interests of the bank and customers. With no big words, they told us it is what they should do.

Not only the staff of the business department of branch, but also the staff of Chengdu's Shudu Dadao Sub-Branch, Jinniu Sub-Branch, Wuhou Sub-Branch, Gaoxin Sub-Branch and other sub-branches did the same. Their initial response to the earthquake is to lock up the important vouchers and cash till before leaving. Wang Bing, an employee of Wuhou Sub-Branch, was accepting a cash deposit of RMB 400,000 from a customer when the earthquake hit. While handling the transaction of deposit, he told the customer, "Please don't worry. I will complete your deposit first, and you can squat and put your hands over head for safety." Zhang completed all the procedures before leaving the business hall.

Spirit shows itself in times of crisis. Bank of China staff have demonstrated their professional ethics as well as the bank's century old tradition of integrity-oriented philosophy. The rescue team deserves our respect. They contribute to the solid foundation for the bank's development.

They Maintain Operations In front of Danger

On the afternoon of May 12, when darkness was falling down with continuous aftershocks, it was time for daily settlement and batch processing, but the office building of Bank of China's Southwest Information Center was still in danger, trembling in aftershocks with cracks on its walls. Everyone understood that being away from the building is much safer, while inside it means danger.

However, the staff have to complete the batch processing, upload and download the transaction data text, and connect to the network from the machine room. Otherwise, the transactions of branches in five provinces of southwest China cannot be processed, and the branches would be out of operation in the following day. Furthermore, the logic-concentrated version of the information system for the third party depository, national credit management and savings bonds will also be affected, which will cause financial chaos across the entire Bank of China system. As a result, the bank will suffer a huge loss of business and funds, and its image and reputation will also be tainted.

At that critical moment, a touching scene turned up.

At 17:00, Qin Jianfeng and Kang Yong, staff of the Southwest Information Center, volunteered to enter the machine room and kept working until the batch processing of comprehensive business system started.

At 18:00, Gu Yilan, operator on duty, came on time. He entered the machine room at 18:40 for daily operations.

At 20:20, Deng Changyi, Qin Jianfeng, Gu Yilan and Yang Hongyi entered the machine room again for accounting and checking. They formally initiated batch processing of the comprehensive business system at 20:53. The batch processing was completed at 24:00.

At 7:50 on May 13, Fu Zhimin, Xiao Xiao, Deng Changyi and Qin Liang enter the machine room for the final routine check on the system, network and statistics of outlets.

At 8:30, branches and institutions of Bank of China across five provinces in southwest China started operation as usual.

In retrospect of the sleepless night, we are greatly moved by the courage of the cadres and staff of the Southwest Information Center. Those who kept working in the trembling building have shown their professional ethics and loyalty to Bank of China.

They Present Devotion and Cohesion

After the earthquake, 260,000 staff of Bank of China all over the world are concerned about the people in disaster. When disaster struck, help came from all sides. Bank of China staff all took immediate actions to make donations and contribute to disaster relief efforts.

On the morning of May 13, Bank of China head office informed its Shaanxi Branch and Chongqing Branch to purchase supplies including food, beverages, tents, blankets, raincoats and medicines, and deliver them to the earthquake stricken area. Although the two branches suffered from losses to varying degrees, they overcame the obstacles and allocated personnel, cars and funds to finish purchasing and loading supplies of RMB 3 million in the evening. On the same night, relief supplies were transported from Xi'an and Chongqing to the quake area. On the next morning, the supplies arrived at the destination, and the co-workers there felt the warmness from the big family of Bank of China.

Since May 13, 260,000 staff of Bank of China, both at home and abroad, have started donations for the quake victims. No matter they were in the head office or the outlets, in the inland or near the borders, everyone actively participated in the donations, expressing their deep sympathies to victims. By the evening of May 15, the staff donations had exceeded RMB 31 million and new donations were still coming in.

In fact, since the earthquake, Bank of China's charitable spirit have been spread out. To ensure food supply for rescuers in Dujiangyan Sub-Branch and Mianzhu Sub-Branch, staff from the neighboring sub-branches in Pi county and Zhongjiang county delivered hot meals. To settle the family of the co-workers of DuJiangyan Sub-Branch and Mianzhu Sub-Branch who lost their homes, the nearby staff came and took them to their own houses. Many staff carried the injured and their family members one after another with their private cars. Some staff purchased relief supplies and delivered them to their co-workers affected by the disaster. Disaster is heartless but human beings are not. The staff of Bank of China pooled resources, and showed full support. They had brought warmth and hope to people in the disaster area.

Those people and their stories are only part of the relief efforts made by Bank of China staff. The stories have showed their fighting will, unyielding spirit and high mind. With such a team, there is no barrier that cannot be overcome, no miracle that cannot be created. When the interview was almost finished, we got a message: on the morning of May 16, Bank of China Dujiangyan Sub-Branch began temporary operations in a tent. Bank of China's logo is rising on the ruins and bringing a silver lining for reconstruction.

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