Photographer Captures Death Of Dalian Oil Spill Firefighter

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

From NetEase:

A photographer captures the death of a firefighter in the Dalian oil cleanup over 334 seconds and 47 photos

Out of curiosity, Zhejiang province freelance photographer Jiang He (pseudonym) happened to capture in his sights Dalian firefighter Zhang Liang in the ocean participating in the [oil] cleanup. Jiang He says, “[I] didn’t imagine that he would die.” 334 seconds, 47 photographs later, the only thing remaining in the lens of Jiang He’s camera from on high was a black hand slowly sinking into the ocean.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

While Greenpeace was at Dalian investigating the oil leak situation, photographer Jiang He by chance captured Dalian firefighter Zhang He participating in the cleanup efforts in the ocean, and recorded the final moments of Zhang He’s sacrificed life.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The two firefighters are cleaning a water pump in the ocean.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang uses effort to cut a rope line between the floating pump and a fishing boat.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang and Han Xiaoxiong continually enter the water to clean the litter in the pump.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang throws away his knife.

2x

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang uses his finger to point towards deeper water, signaling to push the floatng pump out to deeper waters.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang appears to have been strongly pushed by someone, his entire person separated from the floating pump.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang separated from the floating pump.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The two firmly “stuck” to the jet-black ocean surface by the oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The two sinking deeper and deeper.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Half of Zhang Liang’s face has been swallowed by the oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Half of Zhang Liang’s face has been swallowed by the oil, his eyes tightly shut, grimacing.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang’s grimacing.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

A soldier wearing camouflage with his arms outstretched.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zheng Zhanhong uses his momentum from jumping into the water, using his hands to swim through the black oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zheng Zhanhong using his hands to swim through the black oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang’s head completely sinks below the layer of oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Han Xiaoxiong tightly grips Zhang Liang’s black hand.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Han Xiaoxiong raises Zhang Liang’s hand out of the water surface.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

This black hand begins to slowly sink.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Han Xiaoxiong tries to pull Zhang Liang up again.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zhang Liang’s hand sinks into the ocean.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The two struggle to swim towards the small boat in the thick oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Zheng Zhanhong and Han Xiaoxiong follow the current and climb onto the fishing boat.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Boarding the small boat.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Helping Han Xiaoxiong board the boat.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The two men, completely covered in oil, frantically scream into the black oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Completely covered in oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Anxious people on the shore.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Completely covered in oil.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The little boat heads towards the shore.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

The little boat reaches the shore.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Rescuing the unconscious Han Xiaoxiong.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Han Xiaoxiong rescued onto shore.

Chinese firefighter drowns before the camera in the 2010 Dalian oil spill.

Comments from NetEase:

网易贵州贵阳网友:

There was “334 seconds” to take photos and yet no time to go save him???
“334 seconds” = 5 minutes and 34 seconds. There are many things that could have been done!!!

网易山东烟台网友:

China lacks professional special operations divisions and equipment, therefore leading to this kind of tragedy. So sad!

网易上海网友:

This kind of scene would be better not shown, at least out of respect for the victim!

网易海南儋州网友:

How come [they] didn’t even bring a lifesaver or a safety-line??

网易山东济南网友:

Your death was a little unjust [something that should not have happened]!

网易江苏苏州网友:

Our simple and innocent working people, you all are the most beautiful people in the world. Often watching you all working busily for a living, I feel truly sorrowful. I love you all.

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  • FoB

    sitting on my sofa
    what a truly sad sight to witness.

    • Supreme_Leader

      I guess all of those BP jokes aren’t so funny anomore in China huh? PetroChina joke anyone… no? Hmmm…

  • 毛泽东

    沙发?????????????

  • Carman

    The photographer couldn’t have done anything. Look at that thick oil. Also they lacked safety ropes.

    Death through human error. Happens

  • Angry Mike

    just glad that he’s alive

    • Alikese

      One of them lived, the second slipped under surface in the picture titled “Zhang Liang’s head completely sinks below the layer of oil” and didn’t come up again.

  • TJ

    I suppose this is typical for China… everyone is looking, no one does anything…

    http://www.chinasmack.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/dalian-oil-spill-firefighter-sacrifice-36.jpg

    WTH? There is an whole audience chatting, chilling, and looking at the people in the water. No one thought of calling for help? Throwing a rope? Lifesaver? I guess life has no value in China.

    • Bob

      That’s quite a supposition after seeing only a few pictures.

    • http://ffcountry.ning.com Frederick Georges

      Sadly from a westerners sensibilities the fact that the Chinese see every life event as “destiny” and therefor do little to change the course of any event unfolding.
      It is part of their culture I witnessed when I lived in their country. The fact that they indeed love life and do a great deal to promote harmony and joy of living must be seen as I have and it is confusing how simultaneously they can ignore what they feel they have no control over.
      In America everyone wishes long life to every person but promote poor health by eating poorly, lack of exercise and contaminating the body with drugs and alcohol not to mention how we glorify war.
      For the record I state strongly that life indeed has great value in China and it is we Americans who place little regard for the lives of others as well as ourselves.

      • Hylith

        I am not even American and I call bull shit! I feel that most Chinese just have no invested interest in helping their fellow man due to some that choose to exploit such actions.

        You ever read about the old people that “charge” people who helped them up saying “Oh, they pushed me!”. This is a prime example of how the good ones are punished for trying to help.

        They don’t see value in trying to save someone’s life if it comes at their own expense. Granted this is not for all of them but most. I know because I have been here for WAY TOO LONG.

  • shin

    From the photos, it appears the survivor drowned his friend. Sad for everybody.

  • http://www.foarp.blogspot.com FOARP

    Hard to believe that there was no time to throw the man a line and drag him out when he was only a few yards from the shoreline. Next up are the tractor killing-spree photos –
    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20100802/twl-driver-kills-11-in-drunken-tractor-r-3fd0ae9.html

  • Peter

    I have heard so many stories like this over the years. This week in the city where I am living there was a similar case of people just standing by while someone else died. I wish I had the pictures, but it seems that the local government has had them all pulled here.

    A police officer was stabbed to death this week, while hundreds (supposedly – tens seems more likely) of other police men looked on. First, they were too scared to do anything, and then when they actually fired their guns they couldn’t hit the murder as he stabbed away at their colleague. Really stunning.

  • Jiang

    Sad day for all the workers. What would the deceased wife say? His son? Or his daughter? His aging parents?

  • Nereis

    I can not believe a team of firefighters don’t know how to throw them a buoy, a line, hell anything that could float and that they could hang on to. Why did that man jump into the water? That’s the last thing you should ever do.

  • Evalinsapple

    Arabia united for green supreme rule :( We must fight fascist rule, release ourselves from rule of an unjust allah.

    Cooperators must be punished.

  • Nick

    Terribly sad sight. An unnecessary casualty of modernization

    Glad one of the two brothers escaped from further tragedy

  • JustsomeGuy

    throwing half naked men into the oil spill to contain it… sounds like china’s plan for everything

  • Red Setter

    The most telling picture is the one of the so-called “anxious people” on the shore….. They don’t look overly concerned…. just staring

  • EnglishPRC

    I salute the Martyred soldier. May God Rest his Soul in Peace.

  • manusan

    Remember Colombia 16 nov 1985, the little girl O’Maymar die on TV

    http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=943&u=10023017&lang=en

  • http://www.地球.中国.cn Kedafu

    大连爱你baby!!
    I have been following this article more so than our beloved CS

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/07/oil_spill_in_dalian_china.html
    myself and a few other real wumao comments were deleted
    its great!

    quote of the article
    and the Iron Man 王进喜 said,
    Go ahead with extreme difficulty
    anyone got a song…..
    perhaps…. koom bai ya?
    五毛党

    • http://www.地球.中国.cn Kedafu

      this boston article is crazy!!

      the author is constantly harmonizing

      on one computer (proxy) comment 292 links this glorious website CHINAsmack

      the other computer (computer city bought) the comment is…..well I dont want to say it…..

      check it out!

      五毛党

  • John

    A sad reflection on our reliance on oil and the horrible destruction it is having on the ecology of our planet and on human life. RIP for this poor fellow.

  • kimboslice

    Humans are heavier than oil, so it’s impossible to swim in it. I feel so sorry for that man.

    • The Wade

      worst.logic.ever

  • Chinese Netizen

    Poor guy. Heart wrenching photos.

    Truly a commentary on how China needs to revamp emergency first responder services to a true profession rather than a year or two assignment for the Wujing recruit that is fed political propaganda endlessly rather than how to handle the right equipment for the job.

  • http://www.lovelovechina.com Crystal

    Even if nothing would happen – is oil supposed to be cleaned in such way? Isn’t it dangerous to come into contact with oil for lengthy hours? Who knows if after few years the other people won’t develop some nasty skin diseases?

    • fukuman

      Maybe that brain chip he had was beyond our times and he had to go down terminator style lol

  • Joe

    This is really sad. However I have seen many rescue operations from China disasters and found that many times the soldiers try to pretend to be very gung-ho and do silly things. I don’t know how to explain this but I think you know what I mean whenever you watch. Some times it look silly and dangerous I just cannot explain.

    • Alikese

      That’s why it’s good that 11 other people didn’t throw themselves in the oily water in an ill-fated attempt to save the firefighters. Everyone blaming the photographer, and people on the shore seems to be missing the point.

      The blame lies on the boss who sent these two out into that water without a harness or even a rope tied around their body. The third guy who goes in seems to be able to swim fairly easily in that water, which would imply that the first two were poor swimmers. Sending out two people in oily water, who couldn’t swim, and not giving them a rope to hold on to is gross negligence. That’s whose fault it is.

  • Chiiinaaa

    People here just love to kill themselves. How does that guy enter the water without a rope and somebody to pull him out in emergency.

    Cause of death: extreme stupidity.

  • of canada

    You’ll never see photos of BP clean up people swimming around in the sludge. At least not unless they fell out of a boat by accident. Whatever fire chief ordered his workers who most likely have no swimming ability to go out into that toxic sludge half naked should be held fully accountable. . and anyone else up the line of command who ordered this foolishness.

    • Alikese

      I think part of it is that the people cleaning it up are firefighters instead of scientists, so they have some of the same vainglorious motivations as soldiers do. Ladies who sell flowers on the side of the road wear full on balaclavas to avoid exhaust, but these guys will jump into 10,000 gallons of oil in their skivvies to plug a leak: “Save the people! For the homeland! etc.”

  • of canada

    大连加油! ;)

  • Shanhairen

    I don’t understand. The guy next to him seemed to have no problem swimming in the oil and didn’t die. He even had enough energy to help pull him to the boat. What happened?

  • sidhun

    hell… he could do some thin to save that person…

  • hung le

    That peoples’ republic sure treats its citizens like garbage.

  • PALADIN

    Does’nt suprize me…he was just a poor chinese guy so that made him expendable in the eyes of government .

  • Joe

    Something a cheap life vest or life ring could have prevented. Does anyone there care about anykind of safety. I am sorry he died, really I am but this is what happens when you are dumb.

    • nereis

      Chinese emergency services don’t seem to have nearly as much experience or expertise in safety operations as places with more of a service history and/or culture like America, Canada or Australia. Even the lifeguards don’t seem to know what they’re doing half the time, so it really wouldn’t surprise me if the fire department didn’t train these guys on basic water safety procedures.

  • shanghai girl

    Anybody ever hear of something called ‘rope’?

    What a waste of a life… drowned in such toxicity by his panicking friend…
    Why does China let people with no training take on such dangerous operations? The most basic training in dealing with such matters could have saved this poor guys life.

    And why are there always onlookers and photographers, but no assistance? How did people become so callous and indifferent to human life? So many examples of people just watching or recording while others are beaten, harassed, or dying…
    Such a sad world we live in today….

    • Jack

      To quote Misery (above),

      “If you read the original article (translated via Google) the photographer details yelling down (from where he was standing on high ground shooting down on the river) for someone to get rope, concerned bystanders who couldn’t swim, villagers who tried to launch boats to rescue them but immediately stalled out the engines due the amount of oil in the water.

      It also mentions the serious riptide going on under the deceptively calm surface of oil that was sweeping them away, pulling him under where he instinctively gasped for air and got oil instead. Officials are arguing whether he’d bothered to put his safety line on as they had to go back into the water hourly to work on the pump and witnesses said they weren’t always wearing them.

      Also, the photographer expresses he is wracked with guilt he was unable to help.

      So yeah, there was a LOT more going on than is reflected in the photos.”

  • FYIADragoon

    Wow sure is low-tech solutions in here. Ever heard of machines?

  • edward Kim

    The story happed to this firefighters moved me a lot, they r the real man, regardless of his own life for the country and ppl

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/tooomahs/ Thomas

    Truly sad. :(

    Just a tip..take off your clothes before you swim in oil/water because the clothes just weigh you down.

  • John

    Now that is what I call a hero. Risking your life to save that of others. You need a big pair of balls to do that.

  • Fred

    This is truly horrible. My heart goes out to the man and his family. These pictures convey what language cannot.
    They remind me of the news photos that convinced many Americans that the Viet Nam war was to horrible to continue.

  • http://www.地球.中国.cn Kedafu

    nice! I second that!

  • http://www.地球.中国.cn Kedafu

    你是 xenophobic 风情麻烦!

    给你自己五毛!

  • dude

    He ment density

  • Alikese

    I think the lady who sells flowers on the side of the road would take them both.

  • Misery

    If you read the original article (translated via Google) the photographer details yelling down (from where he was standing on high ground shooting down on the river) for someone to get rope, concerned bystanders who couldn’t swim, villagers who tried to launch boats to rescue them but immediately stalled out the engines due the amount of oil in the water.

    It also mentions the serious riptide going on under the deceptively calm surface of oil that was sweeping them away, pulling him under where he instinctively gasped for air and got oil instead. Officials are arguing whether he’d bothered to put his safety line on as they had to go back into the water hourly to work on the pump and witnesses said they weren’t always wearing them.

    Also, the photographer expresses he is wracked with guilt he was unable to help.

    So yeah, there was a LOT more going on than is reflected in the photos.

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