Jiuzhaigou quake: Close call for Singaporean couple dining at hotel restaurant
Jiuzhaigou quake: Close call for S'porean couple dining at hotel restaurant
Changing tables at a restaurant was a life-saving decision for one Singaporean couple, who narrowly escaped danger when an earthquake struck popular tourist destination Jiuzhaigou, in Sichuan, China, on Tuesday evening.
Speaking to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, Mr Phua Shu Ming, a 56-year-old salesman, described how the table they were initially assigned was crushed by falling iron bars and glass when the quake rocked the building.
The couple were having dinner at the InterContinental Resort Jiuzhai Paradise when the 6.5-magnitude tremor struck.
At least 19 people, including eight tourists, were killed, and 247 injured, the provincial government and state media said on Wednesday.
According to the report, Mr Phua felt uneasy and decided to sit at another table beside the one they were assigned. Half-an-hour into their meal, at 9.20pm, the earthquake caused parts of the hotel to collapse.
"I pulled my wife under the table as iron bars and glass fell all around us, it was frightening," Mr Phua said. The tremors made him feel like he was "in a washing machine", he added.
When the quake stopped, he was shocked to find that the table next to theirs was crushed, but their table remained unscathed with everything, including drinks, intact.
He later took a video of the carnage, as hotel staff were heard shouting for them to leave the building immediately.
The couple were part of a 20-strong group with Chan Brothers Travel.
There was also another tour group with Dynasty Travel consisting of 16 Singaporeans who stayed overnight in Jiuzhaigou.
Both travel agencies said the travellers were safe and have since left the area.
The South China Morning Post reported that more than 31,500 tourists have since been evacuated from the quake zone.
Miss Jane Chang of Chan Brothers Travel, said the area is popular with Singaporeans, but as schools are in session here currently, most travellers there were middle-aged adults.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is in contact with the local authorities and will provide assistance to affected Singaporeans. Its spokesman said: "We are saddened by the earthquake centred in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, which has claimed lives and caused injuries.
"We have ascertained that all e-registered Singaporeans in Jiuzhaigou are safe." - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID SUN