2 revelations learned from the Suhua Highway disaster

The China Post news staff

The media now call Oct. 22, 2010, the darkest day in the 78-year history of the Suao-Hualien Highway. Two tour buses along with 19 Chinese tourists, two Taiwanese drivers, one Taiwanese tour guide and one mainland Chinese tour guide as well as two other vehicles carrying three people were buried after part of the seaside highway was washed away by rockslides triggered by Typhoon Megi-induced rainfall.

By the time this editorial was penned, the body of the driver of a white sedan, a 54-year-old female teacher named Liu Yun-chun (劉芸均), was found. Others were still missing. However, it was also in the darkest of times when the best of human characters were exhibited. A Chinese tourist on one of the tour buses recalled the sacrifices the Taiwanese driver Tsai Chih-ming (蔡智明) and mainland tour guide Tian Yuan (田園) made to save him and other tourists onboard, saying that “I will never forget their sacrifices.” According to the tourist, Tsai and Tian waited in the bus to make sure all the passengers had escaped, although they could have fled themselves. They gave up their window of opportunity for escape to ensure the tourists made it out; witnesses saw the bus hit by giant rocks. The severely damaged bus was later found, but the two were still missing. Similar stories of kindness and selflessness were abound in the wake of the rockslide. Other Chinese tourists told stories of how Taiwanese tour guides and drivers from other travel agencies took them in and guided them to safety. The selflessness of Tsai and Tian, as well as the others, are truly extraordinary not because these noble sentiments are rare but because they are universal. Stories of heroic actions always accompany stories of great challenges in part because it makes journalistic sense to balance tragedy with heroic episodes, but more importantly because we can always count on human nature to shine at the blackest moments. Tsai and Tian showed the world that altruism is not reserved for people of particular nationality, religion, class or occupation. We salute them and join all the people who are at this moment hoping for their best.