By BosNewsLife North American and Asian Services with local news reporting
BEIJING/SAN FRANCISCO (BosNewsLife)– Mourning families from a major evangelical church in the San Fernando Valley of southern California were worshiping Sunday, July 14, without three Christian Chinese students they had been expecting.
Teenagers Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan of the Jiangshan Middle School in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, were among 35 Chinese students traveling to the United States to participate in an academic summer camp organized by the West Valley Christian Church and School (WVCS) when their plane crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport.
The two 16-year old girls died after their plane came in low and the tail hit the ground near the edge of the bay, breaking up the Boeing 777 and engulfing it in flames, investigators said.
Another girl Liu Yipeng, who went to same school as the other two victims, died early Friday, July 12, at San Francisco General Hospital where she had been in critical condition since the July 6 accident, Chinese and American media reported.
South Korea’s Asiana Airlines said the two girls were thrown from the plane and killed upon impact when the plane’s tail hit the ground. They were believed to sit at the rear of the airplane; their bodies were found on the runway.
However police and fire officials later confirmed that Ye Meng Yuan was hit by a fire truck racing to extinguish the blazing Boeing 777.
Friends and strangers have left thousands of messages on Chinese social media sites in their memory, including on Wang and Ye’s still-active Weibo website pages. One wrote, “Little sisters, good luck on your road in heaven.”
In one of her last messages on the twitter website Wang wrote, “Maybe time can dilute the coffee in a cup and flatten the contour of memory.” On the day before the plane crash, she posted her last Weibo message in English. She simply said: “Go.”
A prayer vigil was already held earlier this week at West Valley Christian School. WVCS recalled in a statement the “precious girls who died” and the other Chinese students who were scheduled to spend three weeks with host families from its church.
“The Bible says that God works good out of all things, ” said WVCC Pastor Glen Kirby. “Right now you wonder how good can come
out of this whole situation. But maybe this [accident] will draw us together with real people and the country of China,” he said.
“Our goal as a church and as a school is to reach out to the families in China and show our greatest condolences,” Kirby added.
Of the 291 passengers onboard, 141 were Chinese. At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China.
The United States is a popular destination for Chinese students, including Christians, who attend academic summer camps every year to get a head start at college.
Nearly 200,000 of Chinese students studied in the U.S. in 2011-2012, more than any other country and accounting for more than a quarter of the United States’ international student population, according to official estimates.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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