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BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Eight years ago, Xue Xiao was buried in rubble after a devastating earthquake toppled his school in Mianzhu, Sichuan. As he was rescued, his plea ""give me a Coke with ice please"" gained him the nickname ""Coke Boy"".

Eight years later, Xue, 25, works for Coca-Cola, handling complaints from customers and helping in a museum.

Thursday is the eighth anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake that took nearly 70,000 lives and once left more than 5 million people homeless. Xue wrote on Twitter-like Sina Weibo: ""In eight years, ... we have restored our lives. Best wishes for all.""

The word Coke in Chinese can be literally translated as ""could be happy"" and Xue describes himself as ""the boy who could always be happy,"" even when trapped under a heap of rubble.

The quake struck Sichuan Province and neighboring regions at 2:28 p.m. on May 12, 2008, when Xue was having a chemistry class. The floor disappeared from under him and he fell into darkness.

He stayed trapped for 80 hours. To keep him awake, the rescuing armed police officers talked with him. ""They told me that they were going to buy me a Coke when I came out,"" he recalled. In return, Xue promised to give them ice cream.

He got his Coke in hospital, but regrets that he didn't get a chance to buy his rescuers ice cream. Traumatized, he lost his right arm, and a girl he had been in love with.

In the first year after the quake, Xue was sentimental, writing from time to time on his blog. ""Then I gave up,"" he said. ""I learned to keep the sentiment in the heart.""

In the following years, he studied in Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and engaged in social welfare projects with the Coca-Cola company.

""It was then I had a chance to know more about the company, and gradually I got interested in it,"" he said.

After graduation, he joined the company, and now works 9-5 in the Chengdu office.

Sometimes he feels that the shadow of the earthquake is fading. His parents resumed work and moved to a new home in 2009. He used to mourn his deceased friends each year on May 12, but his job has prevented him from going home in recent years.

When he has time, he watches TV, parties with friends, or goes to the gym. He has put on weight during the past eight years.

His two roommates in Chengdu remind him of the quake. ""One of them was buried in the same ruins as me,"" Xue said. They sometimes talk about the darkest moments, but no longer with heavy hearts.

""In the future I will tell my children about that earthquake,"" he said. He also wishes for ""a girlfriend in the next two years, and to work hard in the company.""

Asked about his troubles, he shook his head. ""No, I don't have any,"" he said. ""Oh wait, I need to lose weight.""

Xue is only of the the ordinary people who became known in the aftermath of the quake.

Lin Hao, nine years old when the quake hit his hometown of Yingxiu, is an actor now. He was the youngest hero of the quake, pulling two classmates from the rubble. He appeared at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, walking hand-in-hand with basketball star Yao Ming. According to the China Daily, he went to an art school in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, one and a half years ago and has appeared in several movies and TV dramas.

Lang Zheng, then three, who saluted to his saviors from the stretcher, is still in primary school. He made donation in 2013 when a quake hit Lushan county of Sichuan.

Female police officer Jiang Min lost 10 relatives including her two-year-old daughter and her parents in the catastrophe. She is now the proud mother of a three-year-old boy.

Ye Zhiping, principal of the Sangzao Middle School, had worked so hard in improving his school building and holding emergencies drills that not a single student was injured or killed in his school. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 57.

None are forgotten in China, a country where earthquakes are an all to common occurrence.

On Wednesday morning, one day before the anniversary of Wenchuan quake, more than 60 people were injured, six seriously, in a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Dengqen County in Tibet's Qamdo City.

The year 2016 also marks the 40th anniversary of the Tangshan earthquake, one of the deadliest of the 20th century that killed more than 240,000 people and injured another 160,000.

""I know many people affected by disaster, and I share their feelings,"" Xue Xiao said. ""What I want to tell them is, the hard moments shall become bygones. Face up the difficulties, and never lose hope."" Enditem


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