CHENGDU, July 12 (Xinhua) -- One moment before a landslide struck, the bus driver pressed hard on his brake and then reversed his bus a dozen meters, saving the lives of the 42 people on board.
The driver, Huang Guiquan, 59, has drawn praise nationwide recently as a video clip of the landslide captured by a passenger went viral online.
About 11,000 cubic meters of earth descended on the highway, just in front of the the bus, in Ya'an of southwest China's Sichuan Province on the evening of July 8.
In the 17-second clip, the bus stopped on a highway between a river and a cliff. A few stones rolled down from the cliff in front of the bus and then a massive landslide engulfed the road ahead, with terrified passengers screaming and crying.
"The landslide happened within one minute of Mr. Huang backing up the bus. We were only a dozen meters from disaster! We owe our lives to Huang," said Zheng Qiang, the passenger who made the video.
Huang Guiquan has been a driver all his life. He attributed his swift thinking to his long driving experience and familiarity with the road.
"It is important for a driver to be observant of the environment all around rather than just staring at the road ahead," he said.
It was raining. He decided to stop the bus when he saw some stones falling down the mountain slope. "Trees swayed on the mountainside, but there was no wind at that moment. I thought that it must be the mountain itself that was shaking so I backed up the bus," he said.
The road is high on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and prone to snow in winter and landslides in summer. Huang is familiar with the road conditions on all his regular routes.
"I am particularly careful when driving through the sections with sharp turns, steep slopes or frequent landslides," he said. "It is always better to stop than rush when in danger."
In the most dangerous moment of his whole life, Huang admits he was scared. "I dreamed that night that we had all been buried by the landslide," he said.
Internet users have give their Huang a resounding thumbs-up.
On Sina Weibo, netizen "Ouxingerer" commented, "He made himself extraordinary by doing an ordinary job well. A wise decision at a crucial moment comes from perseverance and dedication. We can find heroes in our everyday lives."