Thursday, March 6, 2014, 07:48
Li vows tough measures against terrorism
By Yang Wanli in Kunming

Psychologists, medical workers flock to hospitals to assist attack victims

Li vows tough measures against terrorism
Deputies to the National People’s Congress at the opening meeting of the second session of the 12th NPC, China’s top legislature, pay a silent tribute in Beijing on Wednesday for victims of a terrorist attack in Kunming, Yunnan province, in which knife-wielding assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 on Saturday. (Wu Zhiyi / China Daily)

Premier Li Keqiang, speaking at the opening meeting of the second session of the 12th National People’s Congress on Wednesday, strongly condemned Saturday’s terrorist attack in Kunming.

Li offered his condolences to the victims of the attack and their families. He said the government will strengthen comprehensive maintenance of public order, crack down on violent crimes of terrorism, safeguard China’s national security, create public order, and work together to ensure public security in the country.

Deputies to the 12th NPC held a moment of silence at the opening meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the victims of the attack in the Yunnan provincial capital.

Meanwhile, in Yunnan, psychologists and other professional volunteers are continuing to assist victims and witnesses who suffered from the nightmarish attack.

The Yunnan branch of the Red Cross Society of China opened two psychological consultancy hotlines on Tuesday for victims of the attack. The hotlines operate from 9 am to 9 pm daily.

Li Chao, who is in charge of the hotline department, said they got about 200 calls in the past two days, some of them from people who wanted to make donations to the victims. A large number of the calls, however, were from people who sought counseling because of fear and sleeplessness, he said.

“Some victims can sleep only with the lights on. Images of the terrorists wielding long knives and the bloody memories of that night cannot easily be removed from their minds,” he said.

In addition to the 30 psychologists who work for the Yunnan Red Cross, another 20 had volunteered for the hotline as of Tuesday morning.

In Yunnan Saint John Hospital, the only privately owned hospital of the five treating victims of the attack, 13 victims are still being treated. Psychologists from the provincial psychological hospital and Beijing have been working with victims since Monday.

A hospital official who declined to be named said some victims were not severely physically injured but are suffering from strong psychological trauma, including a sense of being overwhelmed and feelings of anxiety, insecurity or nervousness.

“We had a primary school student who was not injured but who saw the terrorists slash his parents. It was a bloody scene in the railway station and too much for a kid,” she said. Another victim, a woman, is filled with fear and screams whenever she sees a stranger, the official said.

She said the hospital also treated a 70-year-old man with a 20-cm-long slash on his face who has managed to maintain an optimistic attitude toward life in the future.

“Psychological problems largely depend on individuals,” said Huang Jianjun, a physiologist from Beijing Anding Hospital. “We did an evaluation of each victim at the beginning and paid more attention to some severe patients.”

He said each patient has a private room where they receive half-hour treatments. Some cases will take a week while others might require months, he added.

As of Wednesday night, the National Health and Family Planning Commission had sent 27 medical professionals from 12 hospitals nationwide to assist.

Guo Yan, an orthopedic department doctor at Peking University Third Hospital who has participated in the medical assistance since Monday, said some victims lost fingers or ears or received long facial scars. Such injuries, he said, might bring feelings of inferiority in the future, which can’t be detected psychologically now.

“Some of them are still fighting fear from the attack and aren’t aware of the influences of those physical injuries. I think the next assistance they need is from experts on plastic surgery, who may help them have a better future life,” he said.

Li Yingqing contributed to this story.