As reports of a fresh tremor surface in quake stricken China, earthquake victims are still in despair. Chinese authorities have started to organise distribution of aid but daily necessities and medical supplies are said to have reached few of the victims.
While donations have come in from abroad, many Chinese are concerned that funds will end up in corrupt officials' pockets in a similar manner to the money that was meant for many of Sichuan's school buildings.
Those structures, locally described as "tofu" buildings because of their lack of steel reinforcement, were the first to collapse in the quake, taking with them the lives of Sichuan's youth and the hearts of their parents.
Corruption at official levels is widespread in China and mainland Chinese are now calling for independent relief distribution channels.
Professor Sun Wenguang from Shandong University told the Epoch Times, that the Chinese Communist party had already started to coordinate large scale donation activities for earthquake relief from within China.
"Some working units even held meetings to force their employees to donate, " he said while others "disclosed to their employees that the target has been set by higher authorities.
"Many wanted to help but were not willing to donate money to the government in fear of its under-the-table operation and the money would not reach the hands of the victims," he said.
"Many people complain that the authorities monopolized the relief control, and there is no transparent supervision system, but it still restricts independent social efforts to provide help on this matter."
Death toll rising
As the fear of floods, disease and their future weighs down on the devastated population, a new tremor on May 18 caused further heartache.
At 5.7 magnitude, the tremor, one of the strongest aftershocks since the May 12, killed three people, injured 1,000 and sent thousands fleeing their homes into the streets, state media reported. The quake brought down more houses and damaged 377 km (235 miles) of roads and six bridges.
Two hundred relief workers, reportedly fixing buckled roads, are also said to have disappeared under mudslides encouraged by heavy rain.
As of May 20, the official death toll stood at over 39,000 from the original quake, recently revised from a magnitude 7.9 to 8.0 by the China Seismological Bureau.
It is estimated that 4.8 million people, have been made homeless by the disaster. Some 220,000 people are reported injured and a further 9,500 are thought to be still buried under the rubble in Sichuan. Most are feared dead.
The tragedy has been marked nationally with three days of mourning but it will not help those that have lost their loved ones.
More than 1000 children at the north Sichuan High School, were buried in the quake with similar stories at a myriad of schools in the region.
Of the 420 students attending the Xiang'e Village High School of Dujiangyan City less than 100 students managed to escape. Local residents said: "The rescue team could not make their way in. We do not have cranes here, nor do we have any other rescue equipment. We made very little and slow progress in our own rescue. When we heard children cry for help from underneath, we were stabbed to the heart."
A woman who lost a son and a daughter sobbed heart broken when kneeling down in front of the bodies of the two children: "Return my two children to me! I do not need money, I do not need land or housing. I only want my children back!"
Many blame cost cutting by local authorities for the schools' collapse pointing out that buildings 20 years older were still standing. 'Our child wasn't killed by the earthquake. She and the others were killed by a derelict building. The officials knew it was unsafe," said Bi Kaiwei, whose 13-year-old daughter was one of 300 children who died in a school in Mianzhu county, London's Daily Telegraph reported.
Chinese authorities have been compelled to call for an inquiry into building standards as a result of the visible and open criticism from parents and online websites.
Independent relief hindered
The government has also allowed entry for foreign rescue teams from Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan in what state media describe as a first for the People's Republic.
Although there is much antagonism between Beijing and Taiwan, the Taiwanese, who remember their own earthquake in 1999, have offered millions of dollars in aid including a personal donation from the newly anointed President Ma Ying-jeou, Reuters reported.
"It's hard to say for sure if this is the world's highest amount (of aid for this disaster), but according to the news out there so far, it should be," said Tung Chen-yuan, vice director of the Taiwan government's Mainland Affairs Council.
However Mr. Huang Qi, who runs a mainland human rights watch website "64Tianwang" told The Epoch Times, "The Taiwan charity organization, Tzu Chi Foundation was denied entry to distribute relief on site. Chengdu authorities emphasized that private organizations should respect the government regulations requiring that all relief should be centrally controlled by the government."
"It is very hard for private organizations to deliver relief goods," Mr Huang continued, "The only channel is to go through the authorities. No matter how the regime promotes its rescue achievement, many people do not trust them because of corruption scandals that happened in past disaster relief dispatching efforts."
Renowned Chinese democratic activist Wei Jingsheng, once described as the Nelson Mandela of China and now resident in the US, said, "The only way to solve this problem is to pressure the Chinese regime to open the door for non-government organizations to be involved in the relief work. Just after the earthquake, the regime denied the entry of foreign rescue teams, but [the regime] backed down three days lateróno pressure, no change."