SHIJIAZHUANG, July 30 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese man's survival after 20 hours in the flood has become an inspiring tale for his folks.
Yang Zhenfei, 41, lives in the Beishikou Village of Yongnian County in Hebei province. Intense rainfall hit his hometown on July 19.
"On the night of July 19, the flood mounted to waist high in just a few seconds. I climbed on to the rooftop, which was four meters high, but in less than an hour, the flood washed me away," Yang said.
"I caught on to a three-meter-long timber pole, and started drifting in the water," he said.
Yang is not a good swimmer, but his perseverance and quick judgement helped him survive. "I was drifting in despair, and when I raised my head, I saw a bridge and the water was already up to the arch. It happened so fast, and my head brushed against the roof of the archway," he recalled.
"The second time when I saw a bridge, I held my breath and dived into water, and only re-emerged after passing the bridge," he said.
Yang said he passed at least four bridges unscathed.
The waves in the dark were monstrous, he said, throwing him to meters high. "I heard pigs, sheep and even cows screeching in the dark. I bit my teeth and told myself not to quit," he said.
About three hours later, a grove caught his timber pole, and he managed to climb to a poplar tree and waited for rescue.
"I ate the leaves when I felt hungry, and drank the falling rainwater. I had to pinch my thigh to prevent myself from falling asleep," he said.
Yang waited more than 16 hours for people to come to save him.
When rescuers spotted him and came to rescue, he was already more than 20 kilometers away from his home.
Hebei is among the Chinese regions worst hit by floods this summer. In Xingtai city to the north of Yongnian county, heavy rains from July 19 to 21 claimed 34 lives with 13 others missing.
In Beishikou villages, people are still scrambling to rebuild their homes after the flood, they said they are impressed and inspired by Yang's escape with bare life.
"People say his tale of survival is almost like a legend. His courage, and ability of self-rescue are the keys to his survival," said Miao Huadi, a village official.