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Worldwide praise heaped on city's sinkhole hero

Updated: 2016-04-28 07:11

Worldwide praise heaped on city's sinkhole hero

A sinkhole appeared at an intersection in Hangzhou last week. Nobody was hurt thanks to Li's foresight. CHINA DAILY

Officer is nominated for award after his quick action saves lives

Li Weiqi, a 40-year-old auxiliary traffic police officer in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, has become a household name after a surveillance video was broadcast showing how he prevented what might have been a major tragedy last week at a busy intersection in the city.

Li, who is originally from Liaoning province, has served as a member of Hangzhou's West Lake detachment of the Traffic Management Bureau since March last year.

Traffic monitoring cameras caught the moment on April 21 when he noticed something was wrong with the road after seeing cracks that everybody else was ignoring.

Li immediately recognized the danger and stopped traffic before directing drivers away from the buckling road surface.

Three minutes later, the crack widened and developed into a 20-square-meter sinkhole that was 2 meters deep. The hole could have easily swallowed three cars.

Commentators said it was due to Li's quick thinking that no one was injured.

His quick response became known immediately after the incident when media coverage started by domestic and major western media outlets, including the Cable News Network in the US.

CNN uploaded the video to its Facebook page and has received more than 3.6 million clicks and about 20,000 reposts so far.

The site and others were flooded with praise for the officer.

On Wednesday, the city's government nominated Li for a first-class public security award.

Li modestly responded to media questions by saying he was getting too much credit for his actions.

"I was just doing my job," he said when asked why he put his life in danger by stopping fast-moving cars.

Similar words came from the mouth of Ye Jianjiang, a traffic police officer, who was also on scene and who helped redirect traffic.

Hangzhou has around 1,800 contract workers who are employed by traffic authorities as auxiliaries to assist the 1,300 traffic police officers.

Li said he is paid more than 2,000 yuan ($300) a month and works 10 hours a day, which has triggered a debate on the internet about whether contract workers like Li should be paid something closer to the earnings of regular traffic police, who earn around 8,300 yuan a month.

Contact the writers at shixiaofeng@chinadaily.com.cn and zhang_yi@chinadaily.com.cn

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