Air crash survivors return home

A student gets off the bus as he arrives at Jiangshan Middle School in Jiangshan, east China's Zhejiang province, July 14. A total of 31 students and teachers who were held up in the US by the crashed Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at the San Francisco International Airport returned to Beijing on Saturday and reached home on Sunday. Photos: Xinhua

Thirty-one students and teachers who were on board the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed in San Francisco arrived in Hangzhou on Sunday, with many using their cellphones to update loved ones on their location.

The group arrived at Hangzhou Railway Station in Zhejiang's provincial capital at around 1:40 pm after a five-hour, high-speed train ride from Beijing. They then boarded a tourist bus for a four-hour journey to Jiangshan Middle School, where parents and families were awaiting their return.

"The students are tired. Their only wish is to reunite with their parents and get a good night's sleep," said Zou Tingting, an English teacher at Jiangshan Middle School, who was in the crash that claimed three lives - all female students from the school.

Wang Linjia, 17, and Ye Mengyuan, 16, were pronounced dead the day of the accident on July 6. Liu Yipeng, 15, died on Friday (local time) at San Francisco General Hospital, where she had been in a critical condition since the accident, AP reported.

The group of 30 students and five teachers were traveling to attend a two-week summer camp in the United States when the Boeing 777 crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport.

Of the 32 survivors from Jiangshan, 31 returned on Sunday - as one female student is still undergoing medical treatment but her condition is stable, according to the Jiangshan city education department.

"We feel really happy they are finally home," said Yang Riming, who teaches art at the school. "We're deeply grieved by the tragedy, but we hope the survivors will all be safe and sound. This is the wish of the faculty and everyone else in Jiangshan."

Several students said they only felt reassured when they landed in Beijing on Saturday evening after flying with Air China from San Francisco.

"When the in-flight intercom announced, 'Welcome home', many of my fellow passengers shed tears," student Lin Zixuan was quoted as saying by the City Express newspaper.

Lin posted a picture of the returning students around a cake holding balloons on Tencent Weibo, a micro-blogging platform, on July 9, to show their families they were safe and well in the US.

Students and teachers arrive at Jiangshan Middle School by bus in Jiangshan, east China's Zhejiang province, July 14, 2013.

Some students showed signs of trauma in San Francisco and were scared to even take elevators, said Ye Lianjun, a teacher who was with the students.

Psychologists said counseling is necessary for the survivors to soothe their fears.

"Instead of deliberately making them dodge memorial events of the deceased classmates, they should be encouraged to inspire each other as they walked out of the catastrophe and need to have confidence in a bright future," said Sang Biao, a professor of psychology at East China Normal University.

The school should arrange team games for them to experience mutual encouragement and trust for better recovery, Sang said, which can be extended to all teachers and students at the school affected by the accident.

Psychological counselors visited with the students in Beijing and said they are fine but need to be monitored for the next six months.

Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines said on Sunday its reputation was damaged by a report on a San Francisco TV station that used bogus and racially offensive names for four pilots on its plane, and the Korean airline is considering legal action.


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