Actual Quake Death Toll Concealed by Authorities

By Gao Ling, Epoch Times
May 20, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: May 20, 2008 12:00 am

Three days after the 7.9 magnitude quake that rocked Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province in China on May 12, the death toll is now climbing as the crucial 72-hour window for rescue has passed. However, official media in mainland China has shifted its focus to directions given by officials, whereas reports of how serious the disaster is, have lessened. It is now being said that the officially given death toll is likely much lower than the actual toll.

Ms. Li from Sichuan Province agreed to an interview with The Epoch Times :

Reporter: What is the current situation here as you see it?

Li: What we often see here on CCTV's News Broadcast is not information on the disaster area but official meetings or interviews between a TV host and the director of a rescue center, irrelevant things. What we want to know is—what's the real situation?

Most reports are about what happened in Dujiangyan and Chengdu. We already know that. We don't know the genuine condition of the epicenter.

Reporter: What have you learnt from your relatives?

Li: Not only from relatives, but also from classmates. Do you know Hanwang in Deyang County?

Reporter: Yes, I do. It seems that there are heavy casualties in Hanwang.

Li: According to my friend, most people there died. Similar things happened in another three small towns in Deyang. There were troops and armed police trying to reach the area, but the first group of armed police died in a mud avalanche. Thereafter no more troops were sent. Little is known about what is happening in Hanwang.

Reporter: How many people died in Deyang?

Li: I have a friend from Deyang. I asked him the same question and he told me that the official death toll is much smaller than the real numbers.

I felt very bad when I saw so many students and orphans buried under collapsed school buildings that don't even meet the basic building requirements. Those buildings just weren't made for such a powerful quake, made of only cement with few concrete reinforcing bars. Thousands of young lives were lost. However, the local government buildings didn't collapse in the quake! One feels very bad when he or she sees such a comparison!

Collusion between the construction business and bureaucrats is rife in China. As I grew up in Sichuan Province, too, I know there were a lot of jerry-built construction works there. They exist almost everywhere. The primary reason is collusion. People pursue their own benefits at the expense of others' safety. Why did such a phenomenon occur? Frankly speaking, it reflects the intrinsic problem of China's political system.

Reporter: Do you understand the situations of places other than Hanwang?

Li: Yes. Didn't officials say that 7,000 people were killed in Beichuan County? My friend told me the actual figure is far higher than that. Eighty percent of the buildings in Beichuan County collapsed and were reduced to shambles completely. You know, the population of a typical county in Sichuan Province is at least 100,000. If 80 percent of buildings were destroyed, how would it be possible that the death toll is only 7,000? The official number just doesn't make sense.

In the news broadcast, they reiterate an official statement almost every five minutes. Listen, they are reading it again now. The broadcast said the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau has held another meeting. The minutes of such meeting are always very tedious. However, they repeat the broadcast every five minutes. At critical moments when human lives are endangered, what we truly want to know is the condition of the stricken area. However, they are repeating trivial information. I don't know what they are doing.

Some of my close friends, who fled the quake-stricken area, know exactly how many people are killed. They also have relatives there. I asked them why the death toll mentioned in the broadcast is so low. We all know many casualties are concealed because of certain political concerns.

Reporter: Do you think the reported number of casualties for Dujiangyan is correct?

Li: My friend said the casualties for Dujiangyan are close to 20,000. The official number is too low. As a Chinese, I think we should not allow the tragedy to recur. We have to learn the bloody lesson. There are so many innocent children and orphans. The scene is so distressful to me, you know? (Sobs)

I think the CCP is a very incompetent party. There are so many shoddy construction works. The reality is that the local bureaucrats are all involved in the collusion themselves. But such matters are never addressed in the news broadcast. What is told in the broadcast is: a school collapsed and we went to the rescue. The broadcast didn't mention or explain why government buildings could be spared from collapse. Such types of analysis were never revealed in the broadcast. So, many people are not aware of the truth. Almost all of the people in the Hanwang Township were killed. My friend was among the few lucky ones who survived the quake.

Li: Seeing so many innocent kids are killed, I truly hope that a democratic political system can be established in China as soon as possible. I hope the autocracy can be terminated. In the current dictatorial system, the CCP's top officials are always favored at the expense of massive mid-to-low level citizens. I hope my voice can be heard by more people. You know, when we demand democracy or human rights in China, nobody pays attention to us. Instead, it is very likely that we are accused of anti-CCP or anti-socialism. The pressure of such accusations is too gigantic to bear. We are afraid of being persecuted. This is the truth. Therefore, we look forward to a platform through which our voice can be spread to more people. I hope we can have a democratic China, which is governed by law. The current society is not what we truly want.