|3 Morning after at the Tian Lu Hotel|
(Above) The hotel was apparently built in sections that were poorly connected. The center section contained the lobby, restaurant, and gift shop, and it collapsed completely. The right hand section pitched a bit forward and to the left as the bottom two floors telescoped down.
Fittingly, a couple of heroes emerged from the hotel staff.
After the initial quake, half a dozen guests were unaccounted for in the crowd outside the hotel. Fearing there were still people inside, two brave fellows---a salt-of-the-earth night watchman and a fresh-faced young clerk---ran
back into the pitch-dark hotel and knocked door to door to clear the building. (Bill Gates' life savings wouldn't have made me join them...)
Armed only with flashlights in an unstable building full of broken glass, they dashed in several times and managed to corral the last few guests. (We heard that one guest was stuck in his room with a jammed door, but the rest were apparently just being stupid about leaving the building. Carol heard that one man was trying to go back in for his luggage and nearly had to be dragged out.)
The pair brought out the last guests about 30 seconds before the building crumbled. Needless to say, without the redoubtable duo of Chuo Yun-Han and Chen Jen-Chun, those guests probably wouldn't have survived.
And of course, the two were properly humble about it, perhaps puffing their chests out just a tiny bit as they soberly insisted it was nothing, only right, just ying gai de, and so on. Great guys.
When a news crew came zooming into town the next morning in search of footage (somehow having overcome the torn-up roadways with adrenaline and crazed determination) my sister-in-law and I caught a harried reporter and told him he should definitely interview these two. They were perfect for a disaster news feature. So he filmed them in front of the ruined hotel. It was nice to know the heroes got proper credit on local cable; that was also ying gai de.