Friday, May 16, 2008

Chilling stories of the chinese earthquake

Nearly every building in the tiny rural town of Wufu withstood the forceful earthquake that shook China on Monday. One major structure - the New Number Two Primary School - collapsed, killing some 300 children.Now grieving parents, many of whom dug through rubble with their hands in a frantic effort to save their children, are venting their anger at local officials who they claim knew the building was substandard.Jumbled mounds of concrete and brick are all that remain of the three-storey schoolhouse that caved in just moments before afternoon classes were to begin. Notebooks, backpacks, clothes and a tin lunch box litter the picked-over rubble.The scene is repeated in towns and cities across the quake-damaged section of Sichuan, where more than 50,000 people may have died, including hundreds of students crushed when their schools collapsed.

Millions of survivors left homeless or too terrified to go indoors faced their fourth night under tarpaulins, tents or nothing at all as workers patched roads and cleared debris to reach more outlying towns in the disaster zone.

"There are still bodies in the hills, and pits are being dug to bury them," said Zhao Xiaoli, a nurse in the ruined town of Hanwang. "There's no way to bring them down. It's too dangerous."

One couple with a baby told Hatton that at their house they had no food, no water and so they walked for two days to get to a refugee center. After watching the interview, bystanders gave precious milk to the couple's granddaughter before the family waded into the crowd hoping to find shelter.

At the crematorium, some grieving relatives were rushed through funeral rites by harried workers. Scores of bodies lay on concrete in a waiting area - outnumbering the handful of chapels usually used in funerals.

Thick black smoke streamed from the crematorium's pair of chimneys as families cleaned and dressed the dead in funeral clothes, including fresh socks and sneakers for children.

Fireworks were set off every few minutes and families burned incense, candles and spirit money. Such traditions meant to send the dead peacefully into the afterlife were once banned by the communist authorities but have revived in recent years with free-market reforms and rising prosperity. Burial, which likewise the government once tried to stamp out, has become common in the countryside, although still difficult for people in crowded cities.

In a sign of nervousness, 50 troops lined the road outside Luoshui. Five farmers watched them dig the burial pit, after performing brief funerary rites. Local police detained an Associated Press reporter and photographer who took photos of the scene, holding them in a government compound for 3½ hours before releasing them without explanation.

Today in Dujiangyan an eight months pregnant woman was pulled to safety after spending 50 hours trapped in rubble.In Yinxiu – one of the worst-hit towns – soldiers said only 2,300 people may have survived among the population of 9,000.

Chinese officials now plan a minute’s silence before each leg of the Olympic torch’s journey through the country ahead of this summer’s Beijing games.

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