Wang Zhijun returned home to Sichuan province two days before the earthquake. He had been traveling more cosmopolitan sections of the country for years, trying and failing at the rough business of making money in a corrupt and desperate place run by hucksters and plutocrats, when his wife convinced him to do the proverbial "coming up for air" thing and return home for a few weeks. (Air is not what they got.) (Yeah, pun, sorry.) Some choice moments of a story that reads like a Jimmy Stewart movie when you click the pic. [NYT]

Last Monday, she and her husband had just sat down in her fourth-floor apartment to watch a police soap opera on DVD when the dormitory, which houses dozens of factory workers, began shaking violently…He flung an arm around her as they sprinted for the bathroom eight feet away. The entire building collapsed right as they got there, knocking them to the ground. The wooden bathroom door slammed against Mr. Wang's back. Clouds of dust filled their lungs.

They were trapped for 28 excruciating hours.

They had to take turns breathing. When Ms. Li took a deep breath, her chest expanding, Mr. Wang held his breath…"I don't think I can make it," he told his wife, Li Wanzhi, his face just inches from hers, their arms wrapped around each other. She sensed he was giving up. "If God wants to kill us, he would have killed us right away," she said. "But since we're still alive, we must be fated to live."

Sigh.

They have no home to return to, but that is another problem for another time.

"The only thing we had was each other," Mr. Wang said. "We encouraged each other to live on, and we said once we got out, we'd live a good life and care for each other. Now we have a new start."